More than 35 years ago, the Illinois Supreme Court determined that common-law marriage would not be recognized in the state when justices ruled against a woman who sought property from a man she'd had children with, but never married.There's more:
The court's reasoning in 1979 was to uphold a "policy of discouraging cohabitation between unmarried parties and disfavoring nonmarital children," an Illinois appeals court wrote of the case years later.
The state's highest court weighed in on the issue again this week, in a lawsuit involving a Cook County judge who sought part ownership of her longtime partner's medical practice after the couple broke up.
This time around, the Supreme Court acknowledged that societal norms and attitudes about unmarried people living together are far from what they were in the 1970s.
Despite that change, and factoring in the legalization of same-sex marriage, the court ruled that unmarried domestic partners still have no right to the other's property if they break up.
Though same-sex couples have won the right to marry in Illinois, some said they were disappointed in the ruling. They hoped the case would change the old law, calling it an archaic policy that discriminates against all unmarried couples, gay and straight.Being married means something , still, in Illinois.
"I'm shocked," said Shannon Minter, attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which helped represent Eileen Brewer, the Cook County judge who brought the suit. "It's a devastating setback for unmarried couples, and is so far out of line with current legislative policies in Illinois and the rest of the country."