Today, more and more Illinois couples choose to live together outside of marriage unaware that they may be at a disadvantage if the relationship ends. Illinois property division rights for cohabitating couples are not equal to that of married couples.
Despite the fact that societal norms and attitudes have changed regarding cohabitation, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled recently that unmarried domestic partners still have no right to the other’s property if they separate.
The ruling surrounds the case of a same-sex couple who lived together for more than 25 years, raised three children and co-mingled incomes to pay for homes, a business and other expenses.
Because Illinois does not allow common law marriage, divorce law and its guidelines for dividing property did not apply to them when the relationship ended and,therefore, one of the parties was denied assets she felt that she was entitled to.
In follow-up to the ruling, the court reasoned that because marriage is a legal relationship open to all, including different-sex and same-sex couples, refusing to grant benefits to those who do not participate in the institution of marriage is not discriminatory or irrational.
The ruling should serve as a wake up call for all Illinois couples living together outside of marriage. Because state law does not offer protection to cohabitating couples, it is important to work with an experienced family law attorney to structure property titles and create an enforceable contract between the parties to achieve an equitable division of property.
If you would like more information regarding Illinois property division, child support and visitation or alimony, contact the Libertyville, Illinois Law Offices of Ronald L. Bell, PC for help today.