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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

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Posted on in Cohabitation

cohabitation, Wheaton family law attorneysIt has been a source of confusion to the older generation that many young people in the United States have chosen either to not marry or to wait on marriage until later in life. It is true that there are some advantages to marrying aside from the obvious ones, such as streamlined tax preparation, but for many, there are perks to remaining single. Besides, many argue that they can obtain the best of both worlds via cohabitation, as long as an appropriate cohabitation agreement is signed and executed, so that both partners’ assets and rights are protected.

Do I Need A Cohabitation Agreement?

Not every cohabitating couple needs an agreement. Some do quite well without any kind of legal documentation of their relationship. The tradeoff, however, is that no assets of any kind may commingle, and one has no legal recourse regarding their partner’s assets if they predecease the other. Illinois does not recognize cohabitating couples as having any kind of legal relationship unless they have a valid cohabitation agreement. While being married may not be a couple’s first choice, if they want any legal rights to the fruits of their relationship, they must take definitive action.

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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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