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Unique Same Sex Marriage Laws in Illinois

Photo of Karen Lavin

Same sex marriage was legalized in Illinois and became effective June 1, 2014. The statute not only promises full marriage equality under the law, it continues to leave in place the Civil Union Act which allows same sex unions as well as male/female unions.  That is not unusual with the trend toward legalizing gay marriage in our country.  What is unusual, especially for Illinois, which is never on the cutting edge of much of anything, is that Illinois has decided to retain jurisdiction over civil unions and gay marriages even when the parties live outside the State of Illinois, if they are in a state that does not recognize their union. Allowing access to an Illinois Court for dissolution of a civil union or same sex marriage is very unusual.  Normally, the statute requires that you reside in Illinois for at least 90 days prior to the judgment being entered.  However, since many of our sister states, including Wisconsin and Indiana do not recognize same sex unions either under a civil union act or a gay marriage act, people who wish to dissolve their union have no recourse in that state.  But, they can handle their dissolution in Illinois.  Illinois applies the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) to same sex marriages and civil unions.  The IDMA allows for the fairest dissolution of our marital type unions, rather than trying to apply laws that are unrelated to a marital type union which is more of a dissolution of a business partnership approach.

Another interesting point to note is that the law allows for simple conversion from a civil union to a gay marriage just by completing a form from the county clerk's office.  This is only good for the first year and will expire on May 31, 2015.  There is a cost involved in converting a civil union to a gay marriage.  It is still possible to have a marriage ceremony if the parties are engaged in a civil union, if they prefer.   If the parties do not wish to have a marriage ceremony, the statute permits parties to convert their civil union merely by filing an application with the clerk of the county that they reside in, or if they reside in a state that does not recognize either union, then back in the State of Illinois where their union is recognized.

If you would like more information on civil unions, same sex marriages or the dissolution of either, be sure to contact the attorneys at The Law Offices of KML Associates PC.

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