Civil Unions

Civil unions are committed relationships between two people that are legally binding and allow the couple to enjoy several rights and privileges that they might not be granted otherwise.  However, the benefits are not as comprehensive as those enjoyed by married couples. Civil union rights are only enforceable at a State level, so someone working for the federal government, for example, might not be able to obtain insurance for his/her civil union partner through the federal employer.

While many people think of civil unions as a marriage alternative for same-sex couples, in Illinois, it is an option that is available to both same sex and mixed gender couples. Illinois considers partners eligible to obtain a civil union if they are at least 18 years old and are not blood relatives.

Why a civil union rather than marriage? For some, it makes better financial sense not to marry. A marriage may affect Federal benefits that a party is receiving as a result of being single.

For those who may be enjoying a long engagement, establishing a civil union prior to marriage allows the parties to plan their dream wedding while still enjoying the benefits of a legally committed relationship. You may convert your civil union to a marriage at any time.  Your marriage will be deemed effective on the date you solemnized your civil union. Therefore, you will no longer be deemed to be in a civil union, but rather you will be in a marriage.

Dissolving a Civil Union

The dissolution of a civil union is governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.  In many ways, it is the same as getting a divorce.  The courts will resolve issues of parenting time, property division, spousal support, allocation of debts and the like.

Quick Tip: Dissolving a civil union is similar to dissolving a marriage.


Many of the procedures are the same as they would be in a divorce, so it is helpful to work with an attorney in order to assert your rights as a civil union breaks up.  It is more than just seeing that all necessary forms are filed with the court.

Contact Our Office

If you are considering entering into a civil union in Illinois, trying to decide between a civil union or a marriage, or need to legally dissolve the relationship, we at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates may be able to help. Fill out our contact form or call us at (877) 899-4515 today to learn how to get the most out of your situation.

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