Chicagoland Civil Union Attorneys

 

Civil Unions are a welcome addition to Illinois. However, they raise many complex issues, both to individuals and businesses. Including:

Health Care: Partners to a civil union will be granted certain health care rights and benefits, the Civil Union Act does not make the need for a Power of Attorney for Health Care disappear. To protect your rights and make sure your wishes are respected, execute a Power of Attorney for Health Care.

Inheritance and Death: The Act will give the surviving partner rights in inheritance similar to a spouse, but the Federal government still does not recognize civil union. So the partner will still not have all of the rights and benefits afforded married individuals. Careful Estate Planning (wills, trusts, etc.) can minimize these issues.

Parentage/Adoption: In marriage, a child born is assumed to be the child of both parents. Children born to a partner in a civil union may be considered to be the children of both partners, but this issue is not as clear cut as you might imagine. Because there is not a direct answer to this question, the partners to the civil union are encouraged to use an adoption proceeding to finalize parentage.

Dissolution of the Union: Should the partners in a civil union wish to part, divorce is the answer. As in marriage, civil unions are considered legal relationships and therefore must be ended as you would end a marriage through divorce, annulment or death.

Not Limited to Single Gender Couples: When discussing the Civil Union Act, most people focus on the benefits of a civil union for single gender couples. However, there are advantages to entering into a civil union for opposite sex couples who chose not to marry. In fact, elderly couples who want to protect their social security payments and continue to receive pension benefits from a deceased spouse are likely to choose a civil union over marriage.

Effects on Employers: While recognized by Illinois, Civil Unions are not recognized by the Federal Government. That means employees will gain certain rights under Illinois law, but still do not have access to rights under ERISA similar to married individuals. Employers need to learn the difference between rights afforded under ERISA and rights afforded under Illinois law so it does not inadvertently violate either laws.