DuPage County Divorce LawyerCouples in Illinois often live together for many years without considering or pursuing marriage. Cohabitation without marriage may be preferable for many different reasons, including partners who come from very difficult cultures, couples who want to save the money and hassle of planning a wedding, or people for whom marriage is just not a priority. Although these reasons are legitimate, the truth is that marriage in Illinois gives partners rights and protections during divorce that do not exist for cohabitating couples, no matter how long they have been living together. 

Partners who have owned property and shared a home for many years may suddenly find themselves surprised when they end the relationship and find they have no property rights. If you are in this situation, you may be wondering if there is such a thing as “common law marriage” in Illinois or any other way to prove you were in a serious enough relationship to protect your financial interests. 

Illinois Does Not Have Common Law Marriage, But Other States Do

Most states, including Illinois, do not have common law marriage laws, but a handful of states do. If you were in a common law marriage in a state that does recognize these types of relationships, Illinois will recognize it. However, the definition of what is considered a common law marriage varies from state to state and you will need to prove you were in one. Consult with an attorney for help doing this. 

What if We Have Children? 

Whether or not you were ever married to your child’s other parent, issues of child support, parental responsibilities, and parenting time must always be decided according to the child’s best interests. While Illinois couples are encouraged to create a parenting plan that they both find reasonable, courts may intervene if parents cannot work together. Rest assured that whatever kind of relationship you were in, your children’s rights remain protected by the law. 

What if We Own Property? 

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that couples who cohabitate without getting married do not have any legal rights to each other’s property when they break up – even when they share children. Experts suggest preventing this unpleasant scenario by creating a cohabitation agreement, which is similar to a prenuptial agreement for couples who do not plan to get married. A cohabitation agreement can detail how you will handle financial matters if you ever break up. 

Call a Hinsdale, IL Divorce Attorney

Ending your relationship without knowing whether you have legal property rights under Illinois law can be confusing and frightening. But you do not have to face the unknown alone; with the help of the experienced Hinsdale, IL divorce attorneys at Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio, you can explore your legal options and determine whether you need to seek a divorce, legal separation, or some other arrangement. Call us today at 630-920-8855 to schedule an initial consultation.