June 1, 2014, will mark a momentous occasion not just for Illinois but also for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. On that day, LGBT couples can apply for a marriage license. On the following day, they will be allowed to marry and begin enjoying the legal benefits of a married couple. However, same-sex couples should realize that, as they reap the benefits of marriage, they are also prone to its complications.
Just like heterosexual couples, there is no assurance that an LGBT couple’s marriage will last forever. When any marriage ends, it is likely new territory for the divorcing spouses. So, before a couple starts their new life together, knowing the legal nuances of both a marriage and a possible divorce is wise. One basic concept couples should understand is property division. In a divorce, marital and non-marital property are considered. Non-marital property refers to property or assets that a person acquired before marriage while marital property is property or assets obtained during the marriage.
Spousal support is also a possibility for divorcing LGBT couples. Better known as alimony, the amount and duration of payments will depend on several factors like the property owned by and income earned by each spouse, their ages, the length of the marriage, each party’s education and whether there is impairment on the income of one spouse after being a stay-at-home parent.
LGBT couples should also consider family law issues like child custody and retirement benefits. As this new chapter begins for Chicago same-sex couples, they should be prepared for all the legal intricacies involved. Developing a premarital agreement allows them to address many of these issues before they get married, giving both individuals peace of mind and legal protection in the event the relationship doesn’t last.
Source: Windy City Media Group, “Premarital agreements: Protect your property rights,” Roger McCaffrey, Feb. 5, 2014