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Illinois custody attorney, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer,It was an issue first reviewed by the Illinois Supreme Court more than 35 years ago, and the justices ruled then that common law marriages would not be recognized in this state. This meant non-married, cohabiting partners, regardless of the length of their relationship, could not claim rights to property owned by the other person. This ruling was upheld earlier this month when the Illinois high court decided that unmarried domestic couples had no rights to a partner’s property when the relationship ends.

Marriage and Cohabitation Not the Same, When a Relationship Ends

Many couples do not believe marriage is the right way to affirm their relationship. In fact, there are many couples who live together for long periods of time, even outlasting their married counterparts. However, the end of a relationship not licensed by the state through marriage can provide for some drama when it ends if one feels they are entitled to part of the property and assets amassed during their time together. However, in its most recent ruling, the state’s high court again confirmed that division of certain property and assets held by unmarried couples was not subject to the same laws as those impacting married couples going through a divorce.
  • When first considered, the Illinois Supreme Court reasoned the issue as a way to uphold a policy that discouraged cohabitation of unmarried partners, and any children resulting from the relationship.
  • Despite a change in societal norms, the state only recognizes a partner’s rights when part of a legally licensed marriage.
  • The laws in Illinois pertaining to unmarried couples apply to both those in same-sex relationships, as well as straight couples.

Financial Tips for Unmarried Couples

Here are few things cohabiting couples should consider to avoid unpleasantness should the relationship end.
  1. Create a plan for paying shared obligations, such as rent or utilities.
  2. Schedule bill payments with a plan that prevents unnecessary debt or late balances.
  3. Alternate purchasing expensive items.
  4. Owned real estate, rather than rentals, can complicate matters. If you are helping with mortgage payments make sure your name is on the title.

Seek the Help of a Knowledgeable Illinois Divorce and Property Division Lawyer


new partner, DuPage County family law attorneyWhen you are required to pay alimony—also known as spousal maintenance under Illinois law—your payments are intended to help your former spouse alleviate some of the financial impact of the divorce. To a certain extent, maintenance is also used to help an economically disadvantaged spouse retain a semblance of the lifestyle the two of you enjoyed during your marriage. But, what happens when your spouse meets someone new? Could his or her new relationship affect your requirements for continuing spousal support payments?

An order for spousal maintenance is typically set for a specific number of months or years. Alternatively, the payments may be ordered to continue on a permanent basis. “Permanent,” however, only means that there is no date set on which the order will be terminated. It does mean that the payments will continue forever no matter what. There are certain factors or occurrences that could allow you to stop paying maintenance to your ex-spouse despite a permanent award.

Standard of Living


cohabitation, DuPage County divorce lawyerOver time, society’s opinions are constantly evolving. Some ideas that were controversial in previous generations may be less so today, while other commonly-held beliefs from decades ago are no longer quite so acceptable. Divorce is a good example. Prior to the 1970’s, divorce was largely viewed as a last resort, and carried a significant social stigma. Since then, public opinion has dramatically shifted, and divorce has become a more socially-acceptable solution for many couples. A new study, however, suggests that the pendulum has begun to swing the other direction regarding how most people view divorce, paired with a new view on the practice of unmarried cohabitation.

Direct Questioning

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a sub-agency of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has released a report that examined public attitudes regarding marriage, divorce, sex, and related subjects, and how they have changed over the last several decades. The survey was conducted at intervals between 2002 and 2013, and the sample size, while varied at each interval, always included at least 10,000 adult participants. Participants were presented with a number of statements and asked whether they agreed or disagreed with each statement, using a system that allowed them to “strongly agree,” “agree,” “disagree,” or “strongly disagree.”


 Aurora family law attorney, cohabitation, divorce reform, DuPage County divorce lawyer, Earned Income Tax Credit, Illinois family law attorney, Marriage and Dissolution Of Marriage Act, marriage-like commitments welfare benefitsAn increased number of unwed American couples are living together these days, also known as cohabitation. As a result, marriage rates have dropped over the past several years.

And when deciding between cohabitation or a civil union, it is paramount to understand the legal landscape and benefit/cost calculations as they all continue to evolve. It is especially important when children are involved.

The Civil Union Act of 2011 allowed for all couples to create legal protections, and at the time made Illinois one of only a handful of states recognizing this as an alternative protection to marriage. Yet, some may decide against this path because of potential loss of pension, tax advantages, or Social Security benefits. Others may not wish to undertake the full range of commitments that a civil union or a marriage might entail. And a key reality may impede partners from seeking protection: the consequences of an unwed birth.


Aurora family law attorney, cohabitation, determination of support amount, Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Of Marriage Act, lost earning potential, terminate spousal support, wage garnishment, Illinois family law attorneyA cultural shift from traditional outcomes in spousal support determination is becoming the new norm. As both parties involved in a divorce proceeding are now likely to be wage earners, as women are less dependent, and as men more become the primary parent, the traditional providing of support by the man is declining. And with that said, support from the woman is on the rise. Therefore, support is now truly “gender-neutral.” In such a changeable landscape, clear and knowledgeable counsel is of paramount importance.

When navigating through the dissolution of marriage, it is vital for any Illinois couple to have a clear understanding of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Of Marriage Act, whether it is the determination of the support amount, the provisions for enforcing support collection, or the conditions under which it may terminate.

Legal counsel can help advise both individuals as present and future earning capacity is evaluated, and as considerations of lost earning potential are examined: education foregone, career opportunities postponed, the choice made to bear and raise children in lieu of other paths.


collaborative divorce, mediation, alternative dispute resolution, divorce, Illinois divorce lawyerCan the words “good” and “divorce” inhabit the same sentence? A nasty divorce proceeding can harm children; within that process, they suffer decline in math and social ability, returning to normal skill level only when divorce is final. So, divorce without drama, also known as collaborative divorce, can minimize the negative effect, not to mention the cost savings of avoiding courtroom interaction.

As retired Judge Michele Lowrance presents in her book, “The Good Karma Divorce”, the process is to separate from bargaining from a hard position and to move to interest-based negotiation with a “win-win” outcome. After all, this type of diligence follows logically from the path most take today: 80% of couples now live together before marriage, and 80% have reached the 10-year milestone in wedlock. So, if parting is decided upon, a “conscious uncoupling” using creative problem-solving minimizes confrontation and maximizes a positive feeling for both parents and their children.

Collaboration between spouses avoids the use of children as messengers between parents, and encourages them to love both, regardless of where they may go in life.Per the Collaborative Law Institute, costs average half that of courtroom litigation .The need to work around attorney schedules is totally avoided, and solutions are customized; any strict-guideline judicial decision-making is rendered moot.


divorce rate, divorce trends, Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois divorce attorney, baby boomers, cohabitationThe bulk of research dedicated to determining the prevalence of divorce in this country has discussed a downward trend since the 1980’s. New research indicates, however, that broad generalizations like that don’t get into the heart of more specific aspects of divorce.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota recently took advantage of refined U.S. Census data about divorce to determine just how reliable claims about a declining divorce rate are. According to the study authors, the divorce rate has actually remained relatively steadily since 1980. The determining factor for the divorce rate turned out to be age. When controlling for age, researchers found out that the divorce rate has actually increased by as much as 40 percent since that time.

Divorce rates across age groups are not the same, according to the findings in this study. Back in 1970, there was very little difference between divorce rates for younger and older individuals, but that quickly chances. Baby boomers account for most of the increases in divorce rates. In fact, study authors believe that baby boomers are primarily responsible for “marital instability” that occurred after 1970. This same subset of individuals had higher divorce rates in their 20s and 30s, too, but they still make up a significant portion of divorcing couples.


imsis574-027More couples are choosing to live together before getting married, but that does not necessarily mean that they face a higher chance of divorce. New research out of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found that there’s no correlation between cohabitation and divorce except when two individuals cohabitate at a young age.

This is not surprising, because settling down at a young age has already been linked to divorce in past studies. The research considered data from thousands of women from 1995, 2002, and between 2006 and 2010, and the results were published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. Lead researcher April Kuperberg says that this is an indication that all past research connecting cohabitation and divorce was the result of incorrect measurements.

Moving in with your significant other can be a difficult adjustment period, but it can also help clue you in to whether or not the relationship should move forward. Different habits in the household can cause couples to erupt into fights. Combining finances for the ease of paying bills can also clue significant others into the spending habits of their partners. Money, in fact, can be a significant factor that influences disagreements between partners.

The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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