Same-Sex Couples


Same-sex couples face unique challenges with nearly every legal issue they encounter. Seemingly simple matters like estate planning are more complicated for gay and lesbian couples. And the consequences can be more serious if they are not handled correctly.

I - attorney Karen M. Lavin - give same-sex couples the legal protections they deserve. I have over 30 years experience practicing law in Illinois. Whether you need to create a life partner agreement or want to adopt a child, I will guide you through the process to accomplish your goals.


While Illinois recognizes civil unions and gay marriages, many states still do not. If you just stayed in Illinois, you would be fine and enjoy all of the same rights that married straight couples enjoy. However, if you happen to be driving west on a vacation and have a car accident in Missouri, they will not recognize that your partner is your spouse and has a right to make medical decisions for you, should you become severely injured and not be able to make those decisions for yourself. Therefore, it is incredibly important to create a thorough estate plan to protect the people you love and your rights. I will help you create the documents that meet your needs.

Powers of Attorney -A power of attorney can allow your partner to make important health care or financial decisions on your behalf.

Property planning documents - Property does not necessarily automatically transfer to your partner if you pass away. We will draft the documents you need to make sure that your loved one will be able to keep the home and other property that you want your partner to have.

Wills and trusts - A will or a trust is paramount for couples with children, but even more so with same-sex couples. While Illinois respects your marriage or civil union, if you end up moving to a state that does not recognize or respect your union, you will not be accorded any of the rights of a spouse, including the right to inherit from your spouse. With children a will allows you to appoint a guardian should both parents pass. Without such protection, it is possible for family members, who may not have much of a relationship with the child at all come into to court and ask for custody.


Whether you adopt through an agency or from a private party, you will need an attorney to guide you through the process and prepare all of the legal documents that have to be finalized as a Judgment for Adoption to protect you and your child. If one of the parties of the same-sex couple is the birth parent, even though Illinois recognizes the partner as the second parent, other states will not. Therefore, we still recommend, until there is national uniformity on this matter, that the non biological parent bring the adoption petition with the court so that you have legal rights to your child should anything happen to the birth parent.


In Illinois, the legislature has taken the unprecedented step of allowing litigants who do not reside in Illinois, if they reside in a state that does not recognize their civil union or same-sex marriage, and they entered into that civil union or same-sex marriage in Illinois, to become divorced in Illinois. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act applies to civil unions and same-sex marriage divorces. If you come to the conclusion that your marriage or union is not meant to be, we will guide you through the very difficult complexities and legal labyrinth of divorce.


Many family lawyers do not know the issues facing same-sex couples with wills, trusts, powers of attorney, adoption and other legal documents so that the parties can protect their loved ones. This is an ever changing area of law and as the state and federal courts continue to address same-sex marriage and civil unions, it will continue to evolve and change. You need to be represented by someone who is keeping up with those changes and can best guide you through the ever changing legal landscape.

Call 815-261-4894 or contact me online to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation.