Divorce of Marriage or Civil Union

Both marriage and civil union are legal for same-sex couples and different-sex couples in Illinois. When a relationship breaks down, the process of dissolving a civil union is similar to the process of dissolving a marriage. Division of property, child custody, and other issues will be resolved upon termination of the civil union.

How does a civil union differ from a marriage?

A civil union is a legal relationship between adult partners who are not married. It is available to both different-sex and same-sex couples. Civil union partners have the same rights as married spouses. A civil union can be converted into a marriage, but not vice versa.

What is the process to dissolve a civil union or a marriage?

To dissolve the civil union, you must file a petition with the court. In the case of marriage, you file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. To end a civil union, you file a Petition for Dissolution of a Civil Union. The process begins when the petition has been filed and the other party has been served with a summons and a copy of the petition of voluntarily filed their Appearance.


How is property divided in a dissolution of marriage or civil union?

Potentially one of the most contentious issues in a dissolution is the division of assets and debts. Under state law, this is not necessarily a 50/50 split, but rather an equitable distribution that is fair to both parties. Property subject to division is any property acquired during the marriage or civil union. Separate property that was acquired before the marriage or civil union, or by gift or inheritance, is excluded and remains the sole property of one spouse or partner. Property excluded through a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement also remains separate.

How are child custody and parenting time (formerly visitation) determined in Chicago and the Chicagoland suburban area?

Child custody (now formally known as allocation of parental responsibilities) is one of the most emotionally charged issues in divorce. Courts resolve this issue based on the best interests of the child. Even when parental responsibilities (custody) and parenting time are allocated to both parents, one parent is often the primary residential parent. Family court judges consider many factors in deciding how to determine custody. If both parents agree on how to split custody, they can enter into a written parenting agreement and submit it to the court for approval.

Is alimony awarded to partners dissolving a civil union?

Maintenance (formerly known as alimony) payments may be granted by the court during proceedings for dissolution of a marriage or dissolution of a civil union, but it is not awarded in every dissolution. The amount is calculated according to a formula, and the duration of payments depends on the length of the union. To determine whether maintenance is appropriate, family court judges consider several factors, including:

  • Assets of each party
  • Income of each party
  • Length of the marriage or civil union
  • Age and health of each party
  • Earning potential of each party
  • Parental responsibilities of the parties

At Beermann LLP in Chicago and Bannockburn, we have a team of attorneys at the top of their field who are passionate about the law and professionally representing our clients. From negotiated settlements to complex litigation to appeals, our talented lawyers have years of experience and a solid reputation in the courts.