Mayor Rahm Emanuel officiated at his first civil union ceremony on Thursday between David Spielfogel, Emanuel’s chief of policy and strategic planning, and Lee Crandell. On the first day that Illinois allowed civil unions for same-sex couples, 33 other gay and lesbian couples joined together at ceremonies in Millennium Park reports the Sun-Times.
Illinois state law allowing civil unions for gay and lesbian couples went into effect recently. As same-sex couples now enjoy the right to legally join together, gay and lesbian couples may want to consider whether a civil union is in fact the right decision for them.
Deciding to commit to a civil union is, next to adoption, probably the most important legal act a same-sex couple will make together. And like the decision to get married, there are many pros and cons in deciding to join in a civil union such as:
- Children. After a civil union, both parents may have equal rights and responsibilities over children, so a partner may give up the right to make solo decisions regarding a child.
- Property. Real property acquired after a civil union may be presumed to be the joint property of both partners. Absent a civil union, the property will be presumed to belong to the acquiring partner alone.
- Division of Property. Upon divorce or dissolution of the civil union, joint property (and debts) may be divided equally by both partners, as opposed to each partner leaving with only the property they brought into the relationship.
- Government Benefits. Partners in a civil union may enjoy sate benefits like health care benefits and unpaid leave to care for family members that would not otherwise be available to unmarried couples.
The above list is only a small sampling of the legal ramifications of joining in a civil union. Same-sex partners should take their time and carefully consider whether a civil union is the best legal decision for them.
- Contact a Chicago Family Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- State says they can, so same-sex couples say 'I do' (Tribune)
- Same-Sex Couples and the Law (FindLaw)
- Same-Sex Marriage Pros and Cons (FindLaw)
- Legal Issues for Gay and Lesbian Adoption (FindLaw)