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IL Supreme Court case highlights lack of financial protections for unmarried couples

Protecting oneself financially is important whenever a long-standing relationship fails. This is as important for unmarried couples as it is for married couples. In some ways, it is more important for unmarried couples given that state law does not provide any special entitlements.

A case decided last week by the Illinois Supreme Court highlights this point well. The court ruled in the case that unmarried domestic partners do not have any rights in each other’s property when their domestic partnership ends. 

The case involved a same-sex couple who have lived together for over 25 years and raise three children together. One of the partners had requested that the court order the sale of properties in Illinois, Michigan and Mexico and the division of the proceeds, while the other partner sought sole possession of at least one of the properties, as well as a share of the other partner’s medical practice. Ultimately, these requests were denied on the basis that Illinois doesn’t recognize common law marriage, and because the couple never married, state law regarding property division in divorce did not apply.

For unmarried couples, heterosexual or same-sex, it is important to realize that state law does not give them any special entitlements when their relationship fails. It is important, therefore, for these couples to craft their own arrangements for property division in the event their relationship fails.

In a future post, we’ll take a look at some ways unmarried couples in Illinois can protect themselves financially in the event their relationship fails, and how an experienced family law attorney can help. 

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