Civil Union Dissolution

A civil union is defined as a legal relationship given to Illinois adult partners who are not married. On January 31, 2011, the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act was signed to allow both heterosexual and same-sex couples to be in a civil union with the same obligations and rights as married couples.

While same-sex marriage is now legal in Illinois, there remain many couples who are joined by civil unions. The civil union option is particularly attractive to people such as the following: Senior citizens who do not want to lose certain Social Security and pension benefits and Couples that want to obtain many of the benefits of marriage without the marital relationship.

In Illinois, a civil union grants couples the same rights and obligations as a marriage and dissolving a civil union addresses the same issues as in dissolving a marriage. The same laws that apply to marital property in a divorce also apply to property that was acquired during the term of the civil union. As in a marriage, civil unions create the presumption that all property obtained is owned jointly and must be fairly divided. Likewise, for spousal maintenance (formerly known as alimony) and child-related issues.

When the parties to a civil union have a child, a Parenting Plan setting forth allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as custody) and parenting time (formerly known as visitation) must be submitted to the Court. The parent with most of the parenting time may also be entitled to child support.

Additionally, partners in civil unions are entitled to legal protection under domestic violence laws. If there are any agreements before the civil union formally commenced, those agreements would be treated the same as prenuptial agreements prior to marriage.

If you have decided to end your civil union, you will need to go to court to obtain a formal dissolution of the civil union. The dissolution of a civil union is virtually identical to a divorce, though there are some lingering special considerations that will require special attention.