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Travelling raises legal concerns for same-sex partners

Photo of Karen Lavin


For many same-sex partners in Illinois, June 1 cannot get here fast enough. But while June 1, which is the day same-sex couples can get married, represents a major milestone, it does not mean same-sex couples will cease having to worry about legal obstacles.

Some of these obstacles arise when same-sex couples travel. That is because many states still do not recognize same-sex marriage. For example, Illinois shares borders with four states where same-sex marriage continues to be illegal.

Lack of recognition can make a bad situation worse. Take, for instance, a same-sex couple with a child. If the child were hospitalized during a trip to certain states, the hospital likely would not allow both of the partners to visit the child. Or take the same family again, but imagine one of the partners was seriously injured. The other partner might not be able to give the hospital permission to treat the injured partner.

These difficulties mean that same-sex partners traveling outside Illinois will need to craft and carry paperwork that outside states will recognize. This means Illinois same-sex couples still need to draft power of attorneys setting out decision-making authority regarding financial and health care decisions. It also means that same-sex couples, even after they get married, should legally adopt their children.

Although these legal hurdles may be a frustrating requirement for soon-to-be married same-sex couples, fortunately there are satisfactory ways to manage them. To make sure they are legally protected, Illinois couples may benefit from talking with an experienced family law attorney. Doing so may prevent headaches before they pop up.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Same-sex marriage still leaves legal hurdles for couples," Maudlyne Ihejirika, Jan. 18, 2014

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