The Chicago Family Law Blog

With Civil Unions Come Divorce for Illinois Same-Sex Couples

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On the first day that same-sex couples in Illinois could join together in a civil union, one same-sex Peoria couple is already lining up for a divorce. According to the Peoria Journal Star, Mark Bayer is seeking a divorce from Nathan Fredrick whom he married in Canada in 2006.

The Journal Star reports that the Peoria County Courthouse saw two same-sex couples file for divorce on the same day that same-sex couples throughout the state of Illinois were allowed to enter into a civil union.

Under the new Illinois law, same-sex couples that married or entered into a civil union will be able to enjoy many of the same rights as traditionally married couples, including the right to divorce. A divorce is more than symbolically important for Bayer, as the ability to divorce may now allow Bayer to have a legal claim on Fredrick’s property and also to seek alimony.

Mark Bayer moved to Peoria from South Carolina after his husband, Nathan Fredrick, received a lucrative emergency room position in Peoria. In moving, Bayer gave up his nursing career and spent time rehabilitating the couple’s home. While rehabbing the home, Bayer sustained a serious back injury and is now no longer physically able to return to nursing.

Previous to the new law, Bayer would have been out of luck after separating from Fredrick. He would have no career, a serious back injury, and no claims to Fredrick’s property. The two would have essentially been considered roommates under the old law.

Now, Bayer may be able to claim support from Fredrick and their same-sex divorce may be treated no differently from any other divorce.

Related Resources:

  • Find a Chicago Divorce Attorney (FindLaw)
  • Illinois Couple Files For Same-Sex Divorce On Civil Union Day (Huffington Post)
  • Same-Sex Couples and the Law (FindLaw)
  • Illinois Civil Unions, Same-Sex Divorces Begin (FindLaw’s Law & Daily Life Blog)

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