What Is the Difference Between a Marriage and a Civil Union in Illinois?
In 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex couples all over the nation had the legal right to marry. Illinois was ahead of the curve - in 2011, the Illinois legislature signed the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, allowing couples of any sex to enter into a civil union.
Although civil unions were originally a way for same-sex couples to enter into a legally recognized partnership, they may be used for other reasons as well. Civil unions provide couples in Illinois the same legal rights as married couples, but they are not the same as a marriage. In this article, we will discuss the difference between marriages and civil unions, and why people might choose one or the other rather than simply living together.
Why Get a Civil Union Instead of a Marriage?
If couples who enter into a civil union have the same rights as married couples in Illinois, why not just get married? The primary difference between these two options is that civil unions are not recognized by the federal government. This mostly impacts a couple’s finances - a couple with a civil union can enjoy the same rights as a married couple on the state level, but retain the ability to file their federal taxes individually and potentially remain in a lower tax bracket. However, this means that couples in civil unions will also give up the financial benefits that can come from federal recognition of a marriage.
What Are the Benefits of a Civil Union?
Couples who would otherwise not enter into a formal legal relationship may want to consider the following benefits of civil unions:
- Parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities are handled the same in civil unions as they are in marriages. Questions about paternity, parenting time, and child support can be resolved more easily when there has been a legal relationship between two parents.
- Asset and debt division is treated equitably for partners in Illinois who are in a civil union. This may help a couple address financial questions more easily than if they had simply lived together for an extended period of time.
- Civil unions allow most couples to share health insurance coverage. If one partner has health insurance with their employer, they are generally allowed to add their civil partner just as a married partner could.
- Formalizing a relationship provides stability, both for parents and children. A couple who enters into a civil union may feel as though they have lent their relationship more legitimacy while managing to avoid the expense, hassle, and complications of a typical wedding.
Speak with a Wheaton, IL Family Law Attorney
If you and your partner want to formalize your love and commitment to each other, but are unsure whether you want a marriage or civil union, speak to a DuPage County civil union attorney with Cores Family Law Group. We will explain the different options in a way that is straightforward so you can make the right decision for your unique circumstances. Call us today at 630-871-1002 to schedule your free initial consultation.