There are a few different ways that people can establish a legal relationship: marriage, a domestic partnership, or a civil union. Before the U.S. Supreme Court made its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (which legalized same-sex marriage in all states) many states prohibited same-sex couples from marrying, but allowed them to enter into domestic partnerships or civil unions. Some states also gave opposite-sex couples the option to enter into a civil union or domestic partnership instead of getting married.
While the state of Illinois doesn't offer couples the option of entering into a domestic partnership, couples can choose between a civil union and a marriage. In Illinois, a civil union is defined as "a legal relationship between 2 persons, of either the same or opposite sex." After enacting civil union laws, Illinois also passed a law permitting same-sex marriage and provided an option for couples to convert their civil union to a legal marriage.
Illinois Civil Unions Laws at a Glance
While it's important to read the actual language of any statute, it can be helpful to also read a summary of the law in plain English. In the chart below you can find an overview of Illinois civil union laws as well as links to the relevant statutes.
||Illinois Statutes Chapter 750 Section 75/1, et seq. (Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act)
|Rights Afforded to Couples in a Civil Union
||A couple in a civil union is entitled to the same benefits, obligations, protections, and responsibilities afforded to spouses under the laws of Illinois.
|Prohibited Civil Unions
Civil unions are prohibited in the following situations:
- Before the age of 18;
- Before a previous marriage, civil union, or other similar legal relationship is dissolved;
- Between an ancestor and descendent;
- Between siblings (whether half blood, full blood, or siblings through adoption);
- Between an aunt or uncle and a niece or nephew (whether half blood, full blood, or related through adoption); and
- Between first cousins.
|Dissolution of a Civil Union
Couples who enter into a civil union in Illinois consent to allowing the courts of Illinois to have jurisdiction over their civil union even if one or both members of the couple move to another state. The grounds for dissolution of a civil union are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.
Illinois Statutes Chapter 750 Section 80/1, et seq. (Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Illinois Civil Union Laws: Related Resources
If you'd like more information and resources related to this topic, please click on the links below:
Get Legal Help with Your Questions About Illinois Civil Union Laws
Even though marriage is now legal for everyone, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples still have the option of entering into a civil union in Illinois. If you have questions about Illinois civil union laws, or questions about other matters related to family law, it's a good idea to contact an experienced family law attorney near you.