Same-sex couples in Illinois have experienced many changes in the law in recent years. At one point, domestic partners had no legal rights at all. Eventually The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act provided some structure for gay and lesbian couples to enjoy rights similar to those people in opposite-sex marriages.
More recently, the state of Illinois has made legal marriages between two men or between two women. Same sex marriage is viewed in a legal light as identical to an opposite sex marriage. Just as with a heterosexual marriage, same-sex couples do not enter into their marriages expecting to get divorced. Plans and hopes for a long future together are the guiding force. However, same sex partners are just as likely to find their relationships unable to work as their heterosexual counterparts.
In these cases, the ability to be protected by law when facing a same-sex separation or same-sex divorce is important. The divorce issues in same-sex partnerships are similar to those of traditional male-female marriages. Property division settlements can include division of retirement assets, homes, bank accounts, artwork, business interests and more. One partner may be required to pay alimony to the other. When a couple has joint children, concerns about child custody, support and visitation must also be addressed.
Navigating a same-sex divorce can be a daunting and emotionally taxing experience. At Manassa, Stassen and Vaclavek, P.C., we have worked with many same-sex couples to help them understand the changing face of domestic partnerships, civil unions and marriage and divorce in Illinois.