Gay And Lesbian Family Law
The Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Individuals and Couples
Families can take many forms, yet in any family the need for a good lawyer can be crucial to protecting all the rights a family should enjoy. Jill M. Metz & Associates is a skilled and experienced firm, working through the various issues faced by today’s modern family.
Creating a Family: Chicago Gay and Lesbian Family Law Attorneys
Illinois Marriage Fairness Act — With the passage of the same-sex marriage bill in Illinois, same-sex couples enjoy the benefits, responsibilities, protections and obligations afforded to all married couples. Couples may get married in Illinois or have their marriage conducted in another state or country recognized as a marriage in Illinois.
Illinois Civil Union Act — With the passage of a civil union bill in Illinois, many of the same obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits afforded to legally married couples will be extended to gay and lesbian couples who choose to enter into a civil union in Illinois or a substantially similar relationship in another state or country that is recognized as a civil union in Illinois.
No Marriage or Civil Union — For same-sex couples in a committed relationship who are not ready to enter into a civil union or marriage, we can adapt existing laws to establish obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits for them. For issues ranging from forming your relationship through estate planning, adoption and real estate closings to dissolving your relationship through real estate disputes, property disagreements and determining custody of children, Jill M. Metz & Associates is experienced and skilled in working through these matters with understanding and legal knowledge. We can help you ensure that your partner’s rights are considered in the event of catastrophic illness or death, as well as assist you in ensuring your rights are asserted in property and custody matters during a difficult ending to your relationship.
Domestic Partners Registered With a County, City or Employer — If you registered as domestic partners before June 1, 2011, with your local county or city, you will still need to get a civil union license from your county clerk in order for the rights afforded by the Illinois Civil Union Act to apply to you or get a marriage license from your county clerk in order for the rights afforded by the Illinois Marriage Fairness Act to apply to you.
For couples who choose to not enter into an Illinois Civil Union, they may still register as domestic partners with employers or in the counties and cities that continue to provide a registry.
Some lesbian and gay couples want to start a family together through assisted reproductive technology or through adopting a child in need of a home. Other couples want to have one partner adopt the other partner’s minor children. Jill M. Metz & Associates is experienced at guiding families through the complex and sometimes intrusive adoption process. After years of experience, we are intimately familiar with the requirements of gay and lesbian couples and couples with a transgender spouse working within the adoption court system.
Even before we get to the court system, the process of using assisted reproductive technology can be daunting. We assist clients in the process of entering into donor, surrogacy, and other assisted reproductive technology agreements.
Couples who have a child after they have entered into a marriage or civil union are both recognized as the legal parents of that child in the state of Illinois. However, because many states and other countries do not recognize this relationship, these couples still need to complete a related adoption between the nonbiological parent and the child in order for their parent-child relationship to be fully protected.
Estate Planning for Gay and Lesbian Couples
Estate planning for gay and lesbian families is vitally important. Even if you have entered into a marriage or civil union, it is best to have established clear legal documentation of your intent through powers of attorney and a will, at a minimum. If you move out of the state of Illinois or are in a state or country that does not recognize your marriage or civil union, a time of crisis could be increased if you do not have the proper legal documents already prepared.
Lesbian and gay couples who choose not to enter into a marriage or civil union have no legal rights without clear, expertly prepared documents. The deceased’s biological family could come in during a time of illness and make all decisions, inherit everything owned by the deceased, and make decisions regarding your children. This unique legal nature of LGBTQ families requires attorneys to be more careful in interviews with clients, advice provided to clients and drafting of estate documents. Jill M. Metz & Associates has a long history of experience at dealing with these issues.
Durable Powers of Attorney — Jill M. Metz & Associates will create documents for you and your partner or spouse that will allow you to make vital decisions for each other in the event of serious illness.
Domestic Partnership Agreements — For couples in committed relationships who choose not to enter into a marriage or civil union, there are still steps that can be taken to establish a couple’s intentions for the treatment of their property.
Real Estate Purchases — When you are ready to purchase your home, our firm can help you with the process and ensure that the deed to your house is titled in the way that best meets your family’s goals.
Ending a Relationship: Family Law Attorneys Representing LGBTQ Clients
Illinois Marriage Fairness Act – The dissolution of a marriage in Illinois happens under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. This Act gives the court the authority to resolve disputes about division of property, maintenance, child custody and visitation, child support, and other issues that commonly arise.
If you entered into a marriage in another state or country and your relationship has ended, but were unable to legally dissolve your marriage, 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. This is true even if one of you does not live in Illinois.
Illinois Civil Union Act — The dissolution of a civil union in Illinois happens under the same laws applicable to the dissolution of a marriage. This means that the courts are available to resolve disputes about division of property, maintenance, child custody and visitation, child support, and other issues that commonly arise.
If you entered into a civil union, gay marriage or substantially similar domestic partnership in another state or country before June 1, 2011, and also broke up before June 1, 2011, but were unable to legally dissolve your civil union, gay marriage or substantially similar domestic partnership formed in another state or country, then you are still unionized. You should take steps to dissolve your legal relationship, which will be recognized as a civil union in Illinois, as soon as possible. This is true even if one of you does not live in Illinois.
If the only legal relationship you have entered into is your Illinois Civil Union, you may use the Illinois court system to dissolve your union even if one or both of you no longer live in Illinois.
No Marriage or Civil Union — Our firm helps same-sex individuals who are not in a marriage or civil union to negotiate or litigate important issues such as child custody, visitation, property division and more. Our goal is to protect your rights and secure positive results that will help you transition to the next stage of your life.
If you and your partner have entered into a partnership agreement, we can review the agreement and make sure all provisions for terminating the agreement are completed, making sure the dissolution of your relationship is finalized. If you and your partner are not married or in a civil union when you separate, or if you have a Domestic Partnership Agreement or some other legally recognized relationship, you will not necessarily be afforded the protections of the courts of law to assist you in the separation of your property and in establishing your custodial rights as a parent. However, there may be remedies through the domestic relations court and chancery court. Jill M. Metz & Associates can walk you through your legal options.
Many attorneys do not have the experience to handle the special needs of lesbian and gay couples who separate. Jill M. Metz & Associates will help you handle the potential legal minefield, through mediation, negotiation or litigation, and smooth out the details of this painful process.
Jill M. Metz & Associates uses existing contract, equity and child custody laws to help same-sex partners divide property and arrange for the care of the children. We also represent our clients in any litigation involved. We handle these difficult issues with dignity and care. These same legal remedies are available to different-sex couples who did not get married and are now ending their relationship.
Children — Whether or not you are in a marriage or civil union, if you have adopted your child, the Illinois Domestic Relations Court is an arena where you can work out custodial issues such as visitation and child support.
If you are not the biological parent and have not adopted your child, there are some limited options for you to be able to pursue visitation rights.
If you entered in a marriage or civil union and your child was born after your marriage or civil union date, then Illinois Domestic Relations Court is likely an arena where you can work out custodial issues such as visitation and child support.
Estate Planning — When a relationship ends, estate documents need to be reviewed. Jill M. Metz & Associates can help you revoke old documents and draft new documents such as a will, a trust and powers of attorney. When beneficiaries change, the need to execute a new will and trust document and confirm the revision of beneficiary forms is often an overwhelming process. Our firm can assist you in creating a new estate plan that best fits your goals.
Real Estate Sales — When relationships end, there is typically a need to sell the residence or have one party refinance and take title to the residence. Our firm can help you with either process to ensure that this often painful experience is completed smoothly.
Contact Family Law Attorneys in Chicago
To learn more about gay and lesbian family law/LGBTQ family law legal services, contact us online or call us at 773-878-4480 to speak to one of our lawyers.
Serving the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community and Friends in Chicago and Illinois.