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Custody issues in civil unions

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For those in Illinois who separate after having been living in a civil union, there are many complicated matters to consider. Child custody is never an easy matter to negotiate, and doing so with a former partner from a civil union is certainly no easier for those who have been joined in civil unions than it is for those who are divorcing from marriage. Understanding how the State of Illinois views parentage can help you make more informed decisions when it comes to negotiating a custody agreement with a former civil partner.

Iliinois, like other states, generally presumes that a child who is born inside of a marriage is the child of that same marriage, and both parties within the marriage are presumed to be the parents of that child. For partners in a civil union, individual parentage must be established in order to pursue parental rights. This is most commonly accomplished either through surrogacy or adoption.

For the time being, Illinois remains a state that does not recognize more informal forms of parentage. De facto parentage has been granted a more substantial status in other states, but for those within Illinois, only a legally established parent may successfully pursue custody or make other legal actions on a child's behalf. For those leaving civil unions, they will need to have established some legal form of parentage before pursuing legal actions on a child's behalf. It is wise for any member of a civil union to obtain legal parentage status before attempting to pursue parental rights over a child.

Custody is rarely a simple matter, but loving a child with whom you have grown close is always worth the effort to remain connected. Those who find themselves in complicated legal waters regarding a custody negotiation may find that the guidance of a qualified custody lawyer can help ensure that their needs are heard fairly while their rights are protected before the court.

Source:, "A Guide to the New Illinois Civil Union Law," Richard A. Wilson, accessed Aug. 12, 2016

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