Last month, a new law went into effect in Illinois – the legalizing of same sex marriages. This means that same sex couples have the same rights and privileges under The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act that heterosexual couples do.
Some of these rights include:
- The right to marry;
- ‘The right to make medical decisions for their spouse when the spouse is unable to do so.
- The right to inherit property from a spouse;
- The right to certain employment benefits – such as access to medical insurance, pension benefits and bereavement leave;
- The right to what is legally referred to as ‘tenancy by the entirety,’ meaning that the couple own a piece of property together as a single entity;
- The right to’divorce.
Now that same sex marriages are legal in Illinois, there are areas that couples should look at before they decide to marry. Having a prenuptial agreement in place can help avoid long, drawn-out divorce negotiations should the marriage end. Some of the issues that can be addressed in a prenuptial agreement are property and financial division and whether or not spousal support will be paid. Prenuptial agreements are especially important if either party has children from prior relationships and want to ensure that certain assets will go to the children.
Child custody is another area that same sex couples should address. When same sex couples become parents, whether by in vitro fertilization or adoption, legal steps should be taken in order to make sure both parents have legal custody. If not, should the marriage end in divorce, the spouse does not also have legal custody will have no parental rights at all.
It’s also important to remember that Illinois is not a community property state. This means that before dividing up the marital estate, the court considers factors such as the earning capacity of both spouses, who will have custody of the children and the contribution each spouse made in building the marital estate.
If you are considering divorce, contact an experienced’Batavia family law attorney today to help you decide what the best options for you and your family are.