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Posted on in Marriage

Wheaton family law attorneyMarriage is a dream for many people, but for others, it is something that is not necessary. While some people need a ceremony to show their love in front of friends and relatives, others prefer to simply live together and act as a married couple without undergoing the legal process. When a couple wishes to live together but not get married, it is sometimes known as a common-law marriage. While it does work for many couples, any couple that enters into this type of relationship must understand what their rights are, and how to protect them.

What is a Common Law Marriage?

Not every couple that lives together is considered to be in a common-law marriage. In most cases, people that want to be considered common law must:

  • Cohabitate for a certain period of time


Posted on in Cohabitation

cohabiting, Wheaton family law attorneysA common issue in high asset and complex divorces is one spouse's right to share in the business interests developed and owned by the other spouse. These issues may be complicated if the parties had a longstanding relationship that existed prior to marriage. Unfortunately for the less-wealthy spouse, Illinois courts generally do not take such nonmarital time into account when awarding property and spousal support in a divorce proceeding.

Court Affirms Different Rules for Opposite-Sex, Same-Sex Couples

A recent Illinois appeals court decision illustrates the uphill climb many estranged spouses face. This case involves a husband and wife who were only married for seven months but had a prior 13-year relationship. The husband owned several fast-food franchises and acquired a number of other significant assets over the years, including “multiple homes and motor vehicles.” The wife, in contrast, had “modest” financial resources, according to court records.


same-sex, Wheaton divorce attorneySame-sex marriage has been legal in Illinois since 2014. Of course, many same-sex couples cohabited for years, even decades, prior to this change in the law. The Illinois Supreme Court recently addressed whether unmarried same-sex couples who ended their relationship prior to 2014 could enforce “marriage-like” rights with respect to the division of property.

Supreme Court Rules Cohabiting Partners Cannot Assert Common-Law Marriage Claims

The plaintiff and the defendant in this case were in a long-term domestic partnership from approximately 1981 until 2010. The couple co-owned their home. After the relationship ended, the plaintiff moved out and sued the defendant, seeking a “fair division and partition” of the property. The defendant filed a counter-claim, alleging she and the plaintiff had a relationship “identical in every essential way to that of a married couple,” and accordingly sought division of the couple's property based on the same principles as Illinois divorce law.


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