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How do I establish a same-sex civil union in Illinois?

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On June 1, 2011, it became possible to legally obtain a same-sex civil union in Illinois, providing all the same legal protections and obligations that spouses in a traditional marriage have long enjoyed. Establishing a civil union in Illinois is a relatively simple process available to both homosexual and heterosexual couples, provided they meet several key conditions.

In order for a civil union to be established in the state of Illinois, both parties must at least 18 years old, neither party may still be legally bound by a prior marriage or civil union. If either party has been previously bound by a marriage or civil union, he or she must provide documentation verifying that this legal relationship has either been dissolved or declared invalid, or ended due to the death of a former partner.

Once the application has been filled out and signed by both individuals seeking the civil union, and all fees have been paid, the two parties must physically appear before the country clerk. The county clerk will then furnish them with a license and a certificate of civil union, provided that all conditions are satisfactorily met.

A marriage between persons of the same sex, a civil union, or a substantially similar legal relationship other than common law marriage, legally entered into in another jurisdiction, shall be recognized in Illinois as a civil union. The license is effective one day after it is issued, for 60 days. The certificate of civil union must be completed by an individual with legal standing to certify a civil union in Illinois and returned to the county clerk who originally issued the license within 10 days of the date that the civil is performed.

Entering into a civil union or marriage is a great privilege and responsibility. The guidance of an experienced, qualified legal professional can help those taking this exciting step to avoid any pitfalls on the way to beginning a new life together.

Source:, "Illinois Divorce Law," accessed July 01, 2016

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