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Chicago Civil Union Lawyers

Chicago Civil Union Attorneys Who Protect Our Clients

With the passing of the "Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act" in December 2010, unmarried, unrelated adults of any sexual orientation who are at least 18 years of age can enter into a civil union. Although civil unions offer similar protections as marriage, the two arrangements are not identical. Couples in a civil union are not provided the same federal rights as married couples.

Civil union partners in Chicago are entitled to many of the same legal benefits as married couples, including hospital visitation rights and rights to shared property. Responsibilities may include being liable for your partner's debts and providing financial support following separation.

If you have questions about the dissolution of a civil union or want to know more about your rights under a civil union regarding medical decisions, property distribution, parenting time, or other matters, contact Nottage and Ward, LLP. For over 30 years, our family law firm has been helping people in Illinois navigate difficult situations.

Call (312) 332-2915 to learn more today so you and your loved ones can continue to thrive.

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What Is a Civil Union in Chicago?

In Chicago, a civil union is legally recognized as a partnership between two individuals who are legally referred to as partners. A civil union in Illinois permits a couple of any sexual orientation to access and execute the many obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits given to or acknowledged by Illinois law to spouses. For example, civil unions allow couples to make medical decisions for one another and benefit from spousal employment benefits. Civil unions also grant partners the ability to inherit property.

Establishing a civil union with comprehensive legal protections in place can prevent future legal disputes and provide peace of mind, affirming the commitment and intentions of both partners. However, civil unions are only applicable at the state level.

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The Dissolution of a Civil Union

The dissolution of a civil union in Chicago follows a process similar to divorce proceedings. It begins with one partner filing a petition for dissolution with the court. The petition typically addresses matters such as asset division and allocation of parental responsibility. Both parties will engage in negotiations to reach a dissolution agreement. The dissolution process can take time and may require detailed financial disclosure and negotiations to ensure a fair outcome for both parties.

When partners are unable to come to an agreement, they may wish to pursue arbitration. If the case goes to trial, a judge will decide on your behalf. It is highly advisable to seek legal representation to navigate the complexities of the law and to advocate for the best interests of you and your child. Issues that may be resolved during the dissolution process include:

  • Asset division
  • Estate planning
  • Debts
  • Allocation of parental responsibility
  • Maintenance arrangements

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What Are the Benefits of a Civil Union in Chicago?

In entering into a civil union, two individuals will be given property, parenting time, and inheritance rights provided to married couples in Illinois. Civil unions also provide two individuals the legality to make decisions for one another if a debilitating illness or other literal matters of life and death arise. In providing a couple with legal rights and protections relating to powers of attorney and matters of health, civil unions serve as a vital way for people in committed relationships to decide on important issues and ensure that their loved one's wishes are fulfilled and their rights aren't violated.

The power to make emergency medical decisions and an individual's right to legal inheritance in a civil union allows committed couples to have certain rights without being married.

Civil unions also protect couples on an individual level if they decide to end their relationship. For instance, if a couple who has a civil union has purchased property together, there is opportunity for assets to be distributed fairly. In providing legal terms for the dissolution of a civil union under existing laws, the state of Illinois has created an additional way for the rights of individuals to be protected through civil unions.

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Restrictions and Requirements for Civil Unions

Civil unions in Illinois will not be granted to ancestors, descendants, two siblings, an uncle and a niece or nephew, an aunt and a niece or nephew, or between first cousins. Individuals are also prohibited from entering into a civil union in Illinois if one person is already a part of a marriage, civil union, or a similar legal relationship that has been established in another state.

According to the Illinois General Assembly, if a marriage between two individuals of the same sex, a civil union, or a similar legal relationship aside from common law marriage was legally entered into in another state, it is recognized in Illinois as a civil union.

While civil unions offer similar legal benefits to marriage, there are important differences. In Illinois, civil unions can be entered into by both same-sex and opposite-sex partners, which is also true for marriage. However, the federal government does not recognize civil unions to the same extent as marriages, which can lead to discrepancies in federal benefits and protections. Marriages are recognized across all states and countries that recognize marriage, whereas the recognition of civil unions can vary by jurisdiction.

Understanding the differences between marriage and civil union is essential for couples to fully grasp their legal standing and rights in Illinois. For instance, partners cannot file joint federal tax returns, and they may not be able to receive spousal Social Security benefits.

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Need Legal Help or Advice About Your Chicago Civil Union?

Before entering into a civil union, there is much to consider. While a civil union provides you and your partner with certain rights that you otherwise would not have, ensuring that your best interests are protected through the creation of this legal responsibility is essential. You will want to consider the long-term obligations that a civil union will establish.

Whether you are considering entering a civil union or ending one, the Chicago family law lawyers at Nottage and Ward, LLP, can help.

To learn more about your rights and protections within an Illinois civil union agreement, give our Chicago firm a call at (312) 332-2915 today.

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