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Illinois Civil Unions Law to Go Into Effect in July 2011

By Nottage and Ward on January 11, 2011

Senate Bill 2436, known as the “Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act” has been approved and the new Illinois civil union law will go into effect in July 2011. The Huffington Post reports that the measure passed by a 32-24-1 Senate vote and by a 61-52 Illinois House majority vote.

The new law will permit heterosexual and homosexual couples in a committed relationship to enter into civil unions. The “Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act” will also allow religious institutions to define marriage as they wish. Two adults may enter into an Illinois civil union if they are in a committed relationship and are at least 18 years of age, are not in an existing marriage or civil union, and are not related. Those who enter into an Illinois civil union will be given many of the same legal obligations, protections, responsibilities, and benefits that are provided to married couples.

Some of these rights for individuals in an Illinois civil union will include the privilege to visit a sick partner in the hospital, the right to decide on how to settle a deceased loved one’s remains, and the right to make decisions about a loved one’s medical care. In addition, those in civil unions in Illinois will also be granted certain inheritance and property rights. However, civil unions are recognized by the state but not by the federal government. This means that couples involved in civil unions will not be given any of the federal rights that married couples receive, such as the opportunity to file joint tax returns. However, couples in civil unions can receive visitation and health-care coverage rights based on state law.

Moreover, the dissolution of a civil union in Illinois will also be afforded to couples under existing laws. This will provide couples who wish to end their civil union with protections regarding property, assets, visitation, as well as other important financial and personal factors.

The new Illinois civil union law will also allow the marriages of individuals of the same sex as well as civil unions and other similar legal relationships legally established in other states to be recognized. California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington recognize civil unions and domestic partnerships. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage.

If you are thinking about entering into an Illinois civil union, you may want to consult with an Illinois civil union attorney who can help ensure that your rights are protected when committing yourself to specific legal obligations. Contact the lawyers at Nottage and Ward today to learn more about protecting your rights and securing your financial wellbeing.

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