Illinois finally passed the civil union act and you have been waiting for this day for what seems like a lifetime. You and your lover are super excited about finally joining together in a civil union, celebrating and starting your life. In your state of bliss, however, you forgot to implement a reality check... namely, how do I protect myself if relationship should end and my civil union must be dissolved?
While not the most romantic of topics, a pre-civil union agreement is probably the best investment for any couples joining together in a civil union. As you may or may not know, a civil union is a legal relationship between two people, which may be of the same or different sex, which provides all of the legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits that the law of Illinois grants to married couples. Therefore, entering into a civil union is much the same as a marriage and has the same consequences of a divorce if you end your union. So if you enter into a civil union in Illinois and your relationship later ends, your civil union must be dissolved by a state court in order to legally end the relationship. The dissolution of a civil union in Illinois is resolved under the same laws applicable to marital dissolution. That means the courts are available to resolve disputes about division of property, child custody and visitation, attorneys' fees and other issues that commonly arise when civil unions end.
A pre-civil union agreement has the same protections as a prenuptial agreement. With a pre-civil union agreement, you and your partner can decide in advance what will happen to your assets, liabilities and income in the event of the dissolution of the civil union or the death of one of the partners in the civil union. You may protect your assets, prevent your hard-earned salary from ending up in your partner's greedy hands, keep your retirement funds and income from being commingled, do estate planning and avoid spending substantial sums of money when you litigate your dissolution action. Even if all you have to protect is your "tool" collection, a pre-civil union agreement will prevent thousands from being spent just to litigate whether the tool collection really was your property prior to the union. You cannot, however, protect your sanity once you are in a civil union.
If you think about it from a practical standpoint and view it the union as a partnership, you will understand that discussions about a pre-civil union agreement forces you and your partner to discuss uncomfortable topics. It also assists with revelation of who you are really committing to a relationship with. It is the ultimate test as to whether he or she wants you for your money or for love. If you have balls, you will want to find out sooner rather than later (in other words, not after she has retained a lawyer and you don't have a pre-civil union agreement). If your partner leaves you because he or she won't sign a pre-civil union agreement, consider yourself blessed and go celebrate in Rio with all the money you would have spent on this doomed relationship.
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