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Illinois Civil Unions, Same-Sex Divorces Begin

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 06, 2011 6:46 AM

A new Illinois civil union law has made it the 6th state in the U.S. to recognize civil unions. And now, Illinois' first same-sex couple has also filed for a same-sex divorce just as many gay couples lined up for a civil union license.

Mark Bayer and Nathan Frederick married in Quebec in 2006. The couple is now divorcing, and the new civil union law is allowing them to do so, reports the Peoria Journal Star.

The new civil union law grants same-sex couples the same rights as married couples, including the right to divorce.

Bayer is seeking the divorce from Frederick citing irreconcilable differences and mental cruelty. According to Bayer's attorney, he was denied equal career opportunities, financial security and emotional support during his union with Frederick, reports the Huffington Post.

While same-sex unions may be a happy time for the couple, the reality is that like any relationship, sometimes things don't work out. And, unfortunately for same-sex couples, the law on same-sex divorce is unsurprisingly murky.

For example, if you marry your partner in a jurisdiction that recognizes gay marriage, and try to divorce in a jurisdiction that does not recognize gay marriage, you may face legal hurdles. Some states have specifically ruled that in order for the state to grant a same-sex divorce, the state needs to first recognize same-sex marriage.

And, in other states that do not allow gay marriage, but will recognize gay marriage performed out-of-state, gay divorces may be allowed, reports CNN. But, it all depends on the state you are in, and the specific laws and cases that the courts have come across.

Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your view) for Bayer, the new Illinois civil union law makes the path toward same-sex divorce a bit clearer for residents of the state. In fact, Cook County Court Clerk Dorothy Brown announced that forms for dissolution of civil unions were available at the court office for interested couples.

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