Illinois was one of the few states that legalized same-sex marriage before the United States Supreme Court made such marriages legal at the federal level. Beginning in 2013, Illinois recognized same-sex marriages, paving the way for greater rights for gay and lesbian couples.
Many of the people who suddenly had their relationships recognized by the state in 2013 or after the Supreme Court ruling two years later had been in a committed relationship with their partner for years at that point. Those with same-sex, committed relationships predating the legalization of same-sex marriages in Illinois may have unique concerns if they divorce.
Marriage delays complicate property division
In Illinois, family law judges seek equitable solutions to conflicts about the division of marital property. If you and your ex don’t agree on how to split your possessions and debts, a judge will make a decision based on their knowledge of your financial and marital circumstances. They should find a fair way to split the property and debt that comprises your marital estate.
Usually, only what each spouse acquires during the marriage is subject to property division in an Illinois divorce. However, if you and your spouse already shared finances and a household before the state recognized your marriage as a legal marital relationship, more of your property may belong to your marital estate than you might initially realize.
It can be quite complex for those in long-term same-sex relationships to disentangle their finances when they divorce. Proactively learning about the unique challenges in LGBTQ+ divorces can help those facing these relatively new legal challenges.