Many couples, either heterosexual or homosexual, elect to enter into domestic partnerships in Illinois each day. They intend to gain rights to either health or life insurance benefits, equal parental rights to shared children, or for any number of reasons. Their right to do so was signed into law as Civil Union Law PA 95-1513 and made effective as of June 1, 2011.
On June 1, 2011, Illinois passed the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. The Act was enacted to give a new legal status to both same-sex and different-sex couples, who are in committed, but unmarried relationships.
With the advent of the new year comes a flurry of new legislation. Among other things, the new laws that took effect offer some important expansions for domestic partners to use sick leave. While the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act not expand which employers must provide paid sick leave or the benefits that must be offered, it does create some important new provisions for the circumstances under which an employee can utilize sick leave.
While Illinois has made some important gains in the rights of same-sex couples in recent years, the law is still not as even-handed as one might hope. For same-sex couples who were are living in a domestic partnership and were not allowed to participate in legal marriage until recently, Illinois state law has left them shouldering a burden simply for choosing to be together before the law recognized them.
If you are part of a long-term domestic partnership, then you already know that the law does not always provide you with many of the protections and privileges that married couples enjoy. The good news is that, with a little extra work, domestic partners can often still use the law to their advantage if they know where to look. One commonly overlooked area of protection for domestic couples is owning a home as joint tenants.
Illinois been one of the more progressive states for years, when it comes to extending rights to those who choose non-traditional lifestyles or forms of cohabitation. However, the law has not been entirely on the side of those who choose to be in unofficial domestic partnerships, making it very difficult to achieve fair asset division for couples who choose to cohabitant and then break up. This long-standing position was revisited recently, but ultimately left standing.