Guiding Same-Sex Couples Through Divorce
In Illinois, the divorce process is the same for everyone. Under the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, same-sex and different-sex couples and their children are given equal access to the status, benefits, protections, rights, and responsibilities of marriage including the same application of laws and procedure for divorce.
While the process may be the same, there are a couple of potential issues that are unique to same-sex divorces. Civil unions were not recognized in Illinois until 2011 and same-sex marriages were not permitted until 2014, however, many same-sex couples may have been involved in marriage-like relationships for years prior to the legal recognition of these relationships. This may complicate property issues at the time of divorce. Even though the couple may have intended to treat their property as a married couple long before the date of their civil union or marriage, for purposes of divorce, the law considers the date of the civil union or marriage as the date on which the couple started accumulating property which would be subject to division at the time of divorce. One way to avoid this potential complication is to consider having an attorney prepare a postnuptial agreement to document the couple’s intention and agreement regarding the treatment of property and debts accumulated during the entirety of their relationship.
Same-sex couples with children may face unique issues related to child custody and parenting time. In particular, if the nonbiological parent did not adopt the parties’ child or if the child was born prior to the marriage, then there may be additional obstacles for the nonbiological parent with regard to custody and parenting time.
Partner With An Experienced Family Law Attorney
Same-sex couples should be sure to consult an experienced family law attorney to minimize any complications and ensure that issues regarding division of property as well as custody and parenting time are addressed and determined as the couple intended. At Beattie | Onorato, our team understands the unique challenges that same-sex couples may face during divorce, and we are here to provide our experience, insight, and advocacy to obtain the best outcome for you and your family.