Common-law marriages are still legal in some states but not in Illinois. However, there are ways to secure your rights in Illinois if you are in a common-law marriage. Learn more about this subject below, and if you have questions about common-law marriage in Illinois, our Chicago family law attorneys can assist you.
Common-law marriage means a relationship where the state affirms your marriage when you do not have a marriage license or legal union. If the state recognizes your common-law marriage, you have the same rights as a married couple.
However, Illinois does not allow its residents to enter common-law marriages. So, even if you lived with your partner for years in this state and have their last name, Illinois does not recognize your union unless you were legally married. If you and your partner split up, neither may sue for alimony, for example.
But, the state of Illinois does recognize a common-law marriage that was legally entered into in states that recognize them. The Full Faith and Credit Clause stipulates that all states must recognize a common-law marriage if the union was formed in a state that recognizes them. For instance, if you entered a common-law marriage legally in Texas and want an Illinois divorce, the courts will view the matter the same as if you were legally married.
The following places in the US currently allow common-law marriages:
Why would someone enter a common-law marriage? The union gives you the same marital rights and benefits as traditionally married couples. So in a state that allows and or recognizes a common-law marriage, you have the same benefits as a married couple, but you do not have to go through the regular marriage process.
Some couples want to enter a common-law union because having a traditional wedding is expensive and they may want to avoid dealing with the timelines and expenses.
The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that unmarried couples do not have the right to one another’s property if they split up. So, it can be beneficial in this state to sign a cohabitation agreement with the help of your attorney. This agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement and is a written contract between two adults that lets them state how to address assets and finances if the relationship is terminated. However, note that a cohabitation agreement cannot determine child support or parenting time; only an Illinois court can resolve these issues legally.
No. For some reason, many people think a common-law marriage exists if you live together for a certain period, such as seven years. No matter how long you live together in Illinois, common-law marriages are not performed in Illinois. Where common-law marriages are performed, the time you live together usually does not matter. However, if you meet all requirements of a common-law marriage in a state that recognizes them and move to Illinois, the state will recognize it.
Common-law marriages are not valid in Illinois, but they are recognized if done legally in a state that recognizes them. If you have issues surrounding common-law marriage from another state and need advice in Illinois, you should seek legal advice promptly. Please contact our Chicago family law attorneys at Gordon & Perlut, LLC, at (312) 360-0250.