Though in several other legal senses a civil union is not as complicated or as involved as a marriage, dissolving a civil union can be just as difficult and trying on all parties involved. According to the Illinois General Assembly, persons who enter into a civil union have the same ‘obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses. In the event of divorce, this means that all persons are held to the same responsibilities of divorcing spouses, including distribution of property, setting up an arrangement for shared childcare (if applicable), and the separation of shared financial responsibilities.
The law regarding civil unions in Illinois was changed in 2011, according to the Illinois Bar Journal. That year, the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act was passed in an attempt, by and large, to ensure some of the same protections afforded heterosexual couples to homosexual couples as well. Not all couples who opt for a civil union instead of a traditional marriage are same-gender couples, however’and a civil union must be formally dissolved before either party in the civil union can be married or enter into another civil union.
The new law, according to the Bar Journal, is almost exactly the same as the previously existing Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). One major tenant of the new law allows for separation of property in the same way that property is divided in divorce. Illinois is an equitable property distribution state, meaning that both partners in the relationship are awarded similar settlements, regardless of individual financial standing or contribution.
Just as with the IMDMA, the first step to the dissolution of a civil union is a declaration of invalidity. To do this, a person must consent to the jurisdiction of an Illinois court. Just as with divorce, this is true whether or not both parties reside in the state of Illinois. In fact, according to the Bar Journal, the only ostensible difference between the dissolution of a marriage and the dissolution of a civil union is in name alone.
If you or someone you know is considering dissolving a civil union in Illinois, the most important step is to contact a qualified Illinois family law attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Van A. Larson, P.C., today.