Traditional marriage is not suitable for everyone who wants to make a commitment to their partner. For many opposite sex couples the institution of marriage no longer appeals for many reasons. However, for a gay and lesbian couple it is has not been a route that has been open to them at all. In these cases the answer may be to undertake a civil union. It must be noted that currently civil unions are not recognized by Federal Law, nor are they recognized in all states, this is particularly true for same sex couples. Before you decide that this is the right path for you and your partner, you need to know what your rights are under a civil union.
Who Can Enter Into A Civil Union?
In order to be considered eligible for a civil union within Chicago, you must be able to satisfy a Chicago family lawyer that you:
- Are 18 years of age or older
- Are not in a legally binding relationship already – this includes marriages and civil unions conducted in other states
- Are not related to each other – this means closely related; sibling, descendent, aunt, uncle or first cousin
- Are both able to given informed consent and are aware of the meaning of your actions
Your Legal Rights
A married couple cannot be called to testify against one another in a court of law. This right is also available to couples who enter into a civil partnership. This means that conversations between partners in a civil union can remain private.
Your Property And Inheritance Rights
Living with a partner, in a property that you have no rights over can cause problems if anything happens to your partner. Under a civil union you have the right to own property with your partner. This also gives rights to one partner if the other buys property after they are joined in a civil union. A civil union also affords some protection against losing jointly owned property to creditors. There is also protection for one partner should the other die without leaving a will. The surviving partner is able to receives at least a share of their partners property.
Your Pension Rights
Most partners dream of growing old together and being able to enjoy their retirement. There are occasions when one partner does not make it through to retirement age. Entering into a civil partnership provides some safeguards for the surviving partner. This includes entitlement to pension benefits where the partner worked for the state, county or municipal services, and had a pension that could be passed onto the spouse on their death.
Your Medical Rights
For many couples one of the key areas of concern is what happens if one of them falls seriously ill. Under a civil partnership couples have the right to make decisions regarding medical care. These rights come into force if one partner is unconscious or too ill to be able to make decisions regarding their own treatment. A civil partnership also allows couples to share a room should they require nursing home care.
Of course civil partnerships come with responsibilities as well as rights. If these are ignored you could face many of the same difficulties as married couples. This could leave you seeking legal assistance to dissolve you partnership. Dissolution of a partnership also carries many of the same problems as divorce, so you need to think carefully before you enter into a legally binding civil partnership.