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The Department of Defense has recently announced its plan to extend a range of federal benefits to same-sex spouses of military personnel and civilian defense employees. The changes are being made as a result of the Supreme Court decision that overturned a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In its decision, the court declared that gay couples married in states where it is legal must receive the same federal health, tax, Social Security and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive.

KerryThe benefits will be available regardless of sexual orientation, as long as service member-sponsors provide a valid marriage certificate. The Pentagon also said it would allow up to 10 days of leave for couples who are not stationed in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage to a jurisdiction that does allow it. There are currently thirteen states, in addition to the District of Columbia, that allow same-sex marriages.

Some opponents have criticized the Pentagon for allowing special military leave for same-sex couples to marry, saying there are special provisions in law for adoptions, child birth and emergency situations, but not for marriage.  But the Pentagon says this policy will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the department.

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KerryFor couples who make the decision to live together and not legally wed, the end of the relationship can be costly, whether the relationship ends because they decide not to live together or because one person dies. The state of Illinois does not recognize common-law marriage, leaving both parties unprotected.

There is no property division for separately owned property and no palimony. If one of the couple becomes a stay-at-home parent to care for children of the relationship, there is no law defining loss earning capacity. If one person becomes sick and is hospitalized, their partner has no legal say in their care. And there is no right to inherit the estate if one person dies.

Unless a couple is married or has entered into a civil partnership, the law does not recognize the living-together relationship. That’s why it’s important for unmarried couples to work with an attorney to prepare documents which will protect both parties. A cohabitation agreement should have the following:

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Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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