LGBTQ Services

With passage of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, same-sex couples can now marry in Illinois.  While married same sex couples encounter similar legal concerns as married heterosexual couples, including whether or not to pursue a pre or post-nuptial agreement, adoption, or separation and divorce, some legal issues are unique to LGBTQ individuals.

For members of the LGBTQ community, it is particularly important to obtain representation from a firm with the legal knowledge and skills necessary to craft individualized solutions for the legal issues unique to LGBTQ individuals.

At Beermann, we have extensive experience dissolving civil unions and marriages, conducting second-parent adoptions, drafting pre and post-nuptial agreements for LGBTQ couples, and handling other issues that may arise.  

Our family law attorneys provide the following legal services to LGBTQ individuals:

Adoption:

Illinois is part of a minority of states that provides for second parent or co-parent adoption.  Second-parent adoption allows a non-biological parent to adopt a child without negatively impacting the biological parent’s legal status as parent.  Through second-parent adoption, a legally recognized parent-child relationship is created. 

Since same-sex couples can now legally marry in Illinois, a legally recognized parent-child relationship is automatically created for married same-sex couples upon the birth of their child.  However, if same-sex spouses relocate or even temporarily visit a state that does not legally recognize their marriage, the parent-child relationship will also not be recognized in that state. 

A legally recognized parent-child relationship is essential for a non-biological parent to be able to continue raising his/her child in the event that a biological parent can no longer make parental decisions.  Without a second parent adoption in place, a parent who has raised a child from birth may be considered a stranger to that child in a state that does not recognize same sex marriage.

Divorce- Dissolving Marriages and Civil Unions:

In Illinois, both heterosexual and same-sex couples can enter into a civil union or marriage, with the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits afforded to heterosexual couples under Illinois law.  There are differences in treatment of civil unions and marriages at the federal level, however, and our experience can help guide LGBTQ couples through the differences between marriages and civil unions and their respective dissolutions. 

When facing or contemplating a divorce, individuals often feel considerably stressed, emotionally taxed and simply lost in navigating the legal system.  We provide the quality and knowledgeable representation you need, with a goal of obtaining equitable results while preserving the integrity and sanctity of the family.  We recognize that no two families are the same, and therefore an individualized solution is required in every case. 

Our family law attorneys have experience in all aspects of divorce, including child support, custody disputes, parenting time issues, asset and debt allocation, maintenance (formerly known as alimony), and post-divorce issues.

Estate planning services:

Beermann also offers estate planning, real estate, corporate, and civil litigation services.  Such services are indispensible to LGBTQ individuals. In Illinois, even if a same-sex couple marries, marriage or a civil union it is not enough to guarantee who a court will appoint as guardian when one partner is unable to care for himself/herself, or how a court will distribute property upon a partner’s death.  Our estate planning attorneys work with our clients to craft the legal documentation necessary to ensure that both partner’s wishes are carried out, including the following:

Wills:

The foundation of every estate plan is the execution of a valid will.  A will allows an individual to control the division and distribution of property after his or her death, name the person charged with the responsibilities of handling such distribution, and decrease the expenses that may be involved.  Without a will, Illinois courts will determine the disposition of your assets upon your death.  For individuals and couples with minor children or other dependents, a will also enables you to nominate a guardian for these persons, which is especially important for LGBTQ families whose marriages and civil unions may not be recognized in every state.  Without a will, the court will choose a guardian for your children, which may or may not be consistent with your wishes.

Power of Attorney for Property:

A durable power of attorney for property is a document which authorizes an individual who you have appointed to undertake your financial responsibilities and access your accounts should you become incapacitated or unable to administer your assets.  If you become incapacitated, the power of attorney for property is a valuable tool that will insure that your assets will be managed according to your wishes, instead of being managed by a court appointed guardian.  This tool is invaluable to LGBTQ families as it ensures that one partner will be able to handle the other partner’s affairs if necessary, even if visiting or living in a state where their marriage or civil union is not recognized. 

Power of Attorney for Healthcare:

A power of attorney for health care can provide important information on your preferences with respect to any desired medical care or treatments should you become incapacitated.  In addition, a power of attorney for health care allows you to appoint an agent to make your health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so and ensures that your wishes concerning health care will be followed.  Should you become incapacitated without a power of attorney for health care in place, the court will appoint a healthcare agent for you which may or may not be an individual consistent with your intentions.  Whereas in heterosexual marriages a court usually appoints the functioning spouse as agent for the incapacitated spouse, this is not the case for LGBTQ families, especially in states where their marriage or civil union is not recognized.  Much like a power of attorney for property, a power of attorney for healthcare is invaluable as it ensures that one partner will be able to handle the other partner’s healthcare if necessary, even if visiting or living in a state where their marriage or civil union is not recognized.