Illinois Marriage Fairness Act

Illinois Marriage Fairness Act

Chicago Same-Sex Marriage Lawyer

Illinois legalized same-sex marriages when the Governor signed the law into effect on Nov. 20, 2013. Now gay and lesbian couples throughout Illinois have the opportunity to marry and enjoy the benefits and obligations of marriage.

Entering Into a Marriage

Now in Illinois, any couple, whether of the same or different sex, may enter into a marriage. If you are interested in getting married, you should contact your local county clerk about the established process for being issued a marriage license and having a judge, public official or religious officiant certify the marriage.

Marriage creates rights and obligations, and couples who are older should consider meeting with their accountant before their marriage to make sure they understand how their state and federal tax returns and how their state and federal benefits will be impacted by getting married.

If you have an Illinois Civil Union and wish to now be married under the Illinois Marriage Fairness Act, then you and your civil union spouse must go together to your local county clerk and fill out the form converting your civil union into a marriage. Illinois Civil Unions are still valid and are NOT automatically converted into a marriage.

If you have entered into a marriage in another state or country, then your marriage is recognized as a marriage in the state of Illinois and you do not need to get married again in Illinois.

Rights and Protections Under a Marriage

Couples who enter into an Illinois marriage have every obligation, responsibility, protection and benefit provided by Illinois law and Federal law to legally married couples. However, if you are married in Illinois and move to a state that does not recognize your marriage, then you will not be entitled to state benefits in that state and some Federal benefits will not be afforded to you, as some Federal benefits are based on the state of residence and not the state of celebration (or state of marriage).

If you move out of Illinois, make sure you contact an attorney and accountant in your new state to determine your benefits and obligations in that location. You should do the same if you move out of the United States.

Changes to Parental Rights

Even though spouses are both presumed to be parents from birth of children born during the marriage, to ensure that both the biological parent and the nonbiological parent have the same legally enforceable parental rights in any other state or country where he or she may visit or move, the nonbiological parent should still complete a second-parent adoption of the child born during the marriage. The co-parent adoption or second-parent adoption is the only way to be certain that both parents’ legal relationships are recognized, not only in Illinois but also by other states and countries when you are traveling or if you move.

Estate Planning

Metz & Jones LLC has more than 40 years of experience in serving the estate planning needs of Illinois’ LGBTQ community. The Illinois Marriage Fairness Act, which grants benefits to spouses, does not solve all the problems that are addressed by the new Illinois Power of Attorney Act, which became effective on July 1, 2011. Hence, it is important for all couples, whether or not they are married, to execute powers of attorney for health care and for property.

Estate planning continues to be an important way for all couples to ensure that their spouses have access to their property and records and the ability to act for each other in a crisis. Establishing durable powers of attorney for health care and for property are still important estate planning tools to assure that your wishes are followed in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Careful planning with regard to wills and trusts is still necessary to ensure the best protection for your estate and beneficiaries.

Dissolving a Marriage

The dissolution of a marriage in Illinois happens under Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. This Act gives the courts the authority to resolve disputes about the division of property, maintenance or spousal support, child custody and visitation, child support, and other issues that commonly arise.

If you entered into a marriage in another state or country before the Illinois Marriage Fairness Act took effect, and also broke up before then, but were unable to legally dissolve your marriage in another state or country, then you are still married. You should take steps to dissolve your legal relationship, which will be recognized as a marriage in Illinois, as soon as possible.

Are You in a Same-Sex Relationship and in Need of a Family Law Attorney?

You may be wondering how the passage of same-sex marriage affects you and your loved ones. If so, we invite you to schedule an initial consultation at our Chicago law firm. The attorneys at Metz & Jones LLC stay up-to-date on this constantly evolving area of the law.

Contact an LGBTQ Family Law Attorney

The law firm of Metz & Jones LLC offers services to individuals and couples throughout Andersonville, Lakeview, Uptown, Edgewater and the Greater Chicago area in Cook County. Please contact our Illinois family law office online or call 773-878-4480 today to schedule an initial consultation.

Serving the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community, and Friends in Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois.