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Dissolving a Civil Union

 Dissolving a Civil Union

By: M. Scott Gordon

If you are in a civil union and you want to dissolve it, do you need to hire a Chicago family law attorney? Dissolving a civil union can be just as complicated as getting divorced, and it is important to learn more by speaking with an experienced lawyer. 

Learning More About the History of Civil Unions

As of June 1, 2014, same-sex marriages have been legal in the state of Illinois under legislation signed by Governor Pat Quinn. However, before same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois, many LGBT residents of Chicago elected to enter into civil unions with their partners through the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. According to an article in the Illinois Bar Journal, that legislation was intended as a comprehensive piece of law to “create a status analogous and equal to marriage under Illinois law—without regard to gender—conferring all the rights, interests, benefits, and burdens available to spouses without, or short of, marriage itself.” In other words, the law permitting civil unions to Illinois residents was designed largely for same-sex couples who could not get married under current state law.

Once same-sex marriage became legal in 2014, same-sex couples who had entered into civil unions could convert their civil union into a marriage—making the date of marriage retroactive to the date of the civil union—within one year of June 1, 2014. Meaning, same-sex couples could apply for a marriage license without paying an additional fee or, within one year of June 1, 2014, could apply for a marriage certificate from the Cook County clerk’s office. But to be clear, state law did not require same-sex couples to convert their civil union. And even now that marriage is an option for same-sex couples, the option of entering into a civil union remains. But what happens when a couple—whether a heterosexual couple or a same-sex couple—wants to dissolve their civil union?

Taking Steps to Dissolve Your Civil Union

Dissolving a civil union is not too different from a divorce. Indeed, the Illinois Bar Journal article emphasizes that the legal language for civil union dissolution “differs little from that provided by Illinois law to parties to a marriage.” To begin the process of dissolving your civil union, one of the parties will need to petition for a dissolution of the civil union under Section 45 of the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act and the Illinois Civil Practice Act. Just like in a divorce, the court will determine the following:

  • Equitable division of property;
  • Maintenance;
  • Allocation of Parenting Decisions (formerly known as custody);
  • Parenting Schedule; and
  • Child support.

The complex steps involved in property division will still exist when you petition to dissolve your civil union. And if there are children from the civil union, the court will also make determinations about allocating parenting responsibilities, parenting, and child support.

Contact a Chicago Civil Union Lawyer

Given that the dissolution of a civil union looks very similar to a divorce in Chicago, it is extremely important to have experienced legal counsel on your side. An experienced Chicago civil union lawyer can assist with your case. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates today for more information.