Even though the divorce process is similar for heterosexual and same-sex couples in Illinois, same-sex couples still face unique challenges.
When couples divorce, one of the most difficult parts about the process is this division of assets. Those who entered into a same sex marriage who now want to end their union face similar challenges because these marriages are subject to the same property division laws in Illinois as heterosexual marriages. This occurred after counties in Illinois were ordered to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses under legislation that was signed into action in June of 2014, states USA Today.
Property division laws in Illinois
When same-sex couples divorce, both their marital and individual assets are divided. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, marital property is defined as any assets that were obtained by either of the spouses after the marriage was finalized. Comparatively, non-marital property includes any assets that were:
- Gifts or were acquired through an inheritance
- Obtained before the marriage
- Acquired by one spouse after a legal separation decree was ordered
- Excluded in a premarital or postnuptial agreement
While dividing marital property, the court will take into account a variety of different factors. For example, the court may consider each party's contribution to maintaining or increasing the value of certain martial assets. They may also take into account the length of the marriage as well as the economic circumstances of each party.
Same-sex couples face unique challenges
Although same-sex couples are subject to the same laws as heterosexual couples during the property division process, they still face unique challenges. For example, according to CNBC, many same-sex couples find that many of their assets were co-mingled throughout the course of their relationship and that they are not considered individual property. This often occurs because many same-sex couples lived together for long periods of time before they were legally able to marry.
Same-sex couples also face unique emotional challenges during the property division process and throughout other divorce-related proceedings. For instance, according to the American Psychological Association, gays and lesbians may not have a strong support system as they end their marriage. This is because some of their friends, family members and co-workers may not view the dissolution of a same-sex marriage as seriously as they would a divorce between two heterosexual people. For this reason, same-sex partners going through the divorce process are prone to feelings of seclusion, despair and self-blame.
Turn to an attorney
Those who are ending their marriage in Illinois may be concerned about how their divorce will affect them now and in the future. If you and your partner are ready to embark on the same-sex divorce process, turn to an attorney to determine what you can do to protect your best interests.
Keywords: divorce, same-sex, property, division