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Marriage Rights in Illinois: Part 1

Posted on in Divorce

marriage rights, Illinois family law, Illinois divorce attorney, St. Charles family law attorney, Marriage bestows certain rights and responsibilities upon spouses. These marriage rights can vary based on where you marry and whether or not your jurisdiction even allows you to marry (for example, while same-sex marriage is now legal in Illinois, it is not allowed in numerous states). Illinois sets forth a couple’s rights in the Rights of Married Persons Act, including:

  1. Right to sue and be sued: A married person may sue or be sued without joining his or her spouse as a party in the lawsuit. Spouses may also sue one another for any tort (a civil wrong) committed during the marriage.
  2. Defense in own right or for the other: If the spouses are sued jointly, either party may defend in his or her own right. Furthermore, if one spouse decides not to defend himself, the other spouse may defend for them both.
  3. Spouse desertion: If either spouse deserts the family, the other spouse may prosecute or defend, in the deserting spouse’s name, any action that the deserter might have prosecuted or defended.
  4. Recovery of damages: If one spouse commits a civil injury, damages are collected from that spouse alone. The innocent spouse is only responsible for the damages if he or she would be held jointly responsible if the marriage did not exist.
  5. Debts incurred before marriage: Neither spouse is liable for any debts or liabilities that the other spouse incurred before marriage. They are also not liable for the other spouse’s separate debts.
  6. Earnings: A married person may receive, use and possess his (or her) own earnings and sue for those earnings in his (or her) own name, free from his (or her) spouse’s interference or interference from his spouse’s creditors.
  7. Property: Not all property held by a married person is considered marital property (belonging to both spouses). For example, if a married person obtains real or personal property by descent or gift, that property belongs to the individual and not to the marriage.
  8. Unlawful possession of non-marital property: If a spouse unlawfully obtains possession of the other spouse’s non-marital property, the property owner may initiate a legal action against that spouse.
  9. Attorney in fact: A spouse may consider the other spouse to be his or her attorney in fact in order to dispose of property for their mutual benefit.
  10.  Removal of children: Generally, neither spouse can remove their children from the home without the other spouse's consent. (“Removal” does not apply to routine comings and goings, such as running errands or going to school.)  If one spouse abandons the family, however, the abandoned spouse gets custody of the minor children and does not need the other spouse's consent to move the family elsewhere.
If you have questions pertaining to marriage rights – whether the question concerns a joint or separate legal battle, the disposition of marital property or something else entirely – contact one of our experienced St. Charles family law attorneys today.
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