Same-Sex Marriage Decision: How Will It Impact Illinois Couples?

Same-sex marriage has been a legal option in Illinois for approximately a year. Prior to the passage of the law which made these marriages legal, same-sex couples could enter into civil unions to obtain some, but not all, of the benefits of legal marriage.

Now, the United States Supreme Court has decided that all states must allow same-sex couples to be married in the same way that all 50 states allow heterosexual couples to be married. It may seem like this ruling will have little effect in Illinois where same-sex marriage was already legal; however, it will in fact have an impact. This is particularly true when it comes to divorce.

Supreme Court Decision Will Impact Divorce Rights

While the main headline regarding the Supreme Court’s decision was that all states now have to allow same-sex couples to marry, the court actually decided another important issue as well—each state must allow same-sex couples to marry. However, the Court also ruled that states have to recognize legal same-sex marriages from other states. This has been the law and the practice when it comes to opposite-marriages for generations and is the reason why a heterosexual couple married in South Dakota, who then moves to Tennessee, does not have to go through a whole new marriage—Tennessee recognizes the legal South Dakota marriage. Yet, for same-sex couples, the issue has been much murkier.

Imagine an Illinois same-sex couple who married in Illinois and then moved to Missouri one year later. The Missouri Constitution bans same-sex marriage, so until the Supreme Court’s decision, Missouri did not recognize same-sex marriage. Now, imagine that things did not work out between the Illinois-married same-sex couple. The appropriate way to dissolve a marriage is through divorce. Yet if Missouri did not recognize the couple as being married, then Missouri, the couple’s state of residence, could not divorce a couple it did not see as married.

Now, this is all changing. Since every state has to recognize the legal marriages from other states, they can grant divorces to same-sex couples married in other states. Moreover, this will simplify both property distribution and child custody issues for these couples nationwide.

Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.

If you are considering divorce, whether you are in a same-sex marriage or an opposite-sex marriage, please seek the advice and assistance of an experienced Illinois divorce attorney. Contact the lawyers at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. today at (630) 665-7676. When you call we will schedule an appointment to go over the details of your situation and determine how we can best be of help.