chicago civil union lawyers - Chicago Illinois Family Law Blog
This post marks the conclusion of our blog series that discussed the new benefits given to civil union spouses under Illinois’ new civil union law. We have covered health insurance, workers’ comp, life insurance, auto and homeowners’ policies, and more in relation to civil union spouses. Our last topic covers pension fund benefits.
Are spouses in a civil union entitled to survivor benefits under pension funds for police officers and firefighters?
Yes, since the civil union law provides that civil union spouses are to be given all of the same benefits that are given to married spouses, which include pension-related survivor benefits. However, spouses in a civil union are subject to the same restrictions and obligations in relation to these benefits that married spouses are. For example, the surviving spouse of a police officer is entitled to survivor benefits only if the couple was joined in a civil union or married before retirement. Similarly, the surviving spouse of a firefighter is eligible for benefits only if the civil union or marriage occurred at least one year before the death of the firefighter.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Catholic Charities in Illinois will once again be able to take on new foster care cases, in spite of the efforts of the state to block the group over a dispute regarding civil unions and gay rights. A judge in Sangamon County made a temporary ruling on July 18 after the state consented to permit Catholic Charities to take new cases, at least for the next few weeks. However, the agency will not place children with couples that are unmarried or gay.
Previously, Catholic Charities sued the state over whether they should be required to assist gay couples seeking to adopt or become a foster parent. Then, the agency alleged that the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) had violated an order that required the state to uphold the agency’s contract while things were decided in circuit court. DCFS had allowed close to 2,000 foster children who had been placed by Catholic Charities to remain under the group’s watch and in place. However, despite the order, the state refused to permit the agency to place children in new foster care cases. Catholic Charities sought to keep the cases coming. Additionally, the agency argued that the action by the DCFS was not in agreement with the order from the Sangamon County judge since it did not maintain operations as though the agency and the state had a contract in place.
According to Illinois Radio Network, a problem has already been discovered in relation to taxes and civil union couples in Illinois, just one month after civil unions were made legal. The problem relates to income tax. Under state law, couples in a civil union are required to be treated the same as married couples, but there’s a catch.
Under tax law in Illinois, if a taxpayer files their federal income taxes separately, they are also required to file state taxes separately. Since federal law does not recognize civil unions, couples in a civil union have to file separate state tax returns. Since the health insurance benefits that a partner in a civil union receives for another are considered to be income and are taxed as such under federal law, and since the state applies the same figures, they are taxed under Illinois law, when it seems as though they shouldn’t be.
At the end of May, the Illinois Department of Insurance released new guidelines for insurance companies and consumers to follow in response to the “Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act,” which became law on June 1. Under the Act, people who choose to enter into a civil union in Illinois will be given many of the same legal rights given to married couples. During the course of the next few months, our blog will explain in greater detail the effect the new law has upon health insurance, Medicare, life insurance, property insurance, pensions, and more.
All insurance policies in Illinois that were issued on or after June 1, 2011 by an insurance company registered with the State of Illinois are to conform to the new law. Civil union spouses are also entitled to the same benefits as married spouses under Illinois workers’ compensation insurance.
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