LGBTQ+ (Same-Sex) Divorce

At Stern Perkoski Mendez, we are here to support LGBTQ+ people during divorce and offer stability throughout the legal process. Our expert attorneys are ready to work with you towards a resolution that honors your needs and wishes.

Stern Perkoski Mendez has offices in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook with attorneys who specialize in same-gender divorce (often referred to as same-sex divorce and used interchangeably here). We are committed to empowering you to make the careful and often complicated decisions surrounding divorce with confidence.

Stern Perkoski Mendez understands that you probably never thought you would need to hire a divorce lawyer. That’s why we are dedicated to representing you in an Illinois same-sex divorce, guiding you to understand the divorce process—and explicitly affirming LGBTQ+ marriages and access to a dignified divorce.

Our Promise to LGBTQ+ People Seeking a Divorce Lawyer

At Stern Perkoski Mendez, we are deeply committed to being a safe space for LGBTQ+ people throughout the legal process of divorce. We are conscious of the bias and injustice that people may face due to their sexuality and/or gender identity, and we know that this can be amplified in legal spheres.

As such, we strive to create an environment in which every LGBTQ+ person feels confident, empowered and heard throughout the legal process. As a lesbian, gay, bisexual or Trans individual seeking a divorce, you deserve an attorney who honors your identity and understands the unique challenges you may face—and our divorce and family law attorneys are committed to doing just that.

How is same-gender divorce similar to heterosexual divorce?

Ultimately, the legal proceedings for same-sex divorce are the same as heterosexual divorce. Technically called a dissolution of marriage, any legal process of divorce in Illinois covers three things:

  1. Dividing What We Have
  2. Dividing What We’re Going to Get
  3. Parenting the Children

While all divorces are unique, most proceedings include a combination of out-of-court negotiations, in-court litigation and mediation. Some divorces may be resolved amicably, which we encourage whenever possible.

What is unique about same-gender divorce?

The legal proceedings for same-gender divorce follow the same structure as heterosexual divorce and certainly carry comparable emotional challenges. However, same-gender divorce can present unique challenges and decisions due to its recent legalization.

We often find that many same-gender couples have co-habitated for several years before being legally married—and thus decisions about the division of assets and child custody can be uniquely challenging. Given that Illinois only legalized same-sex marriage in 2014 and does not recognize common law marriages, many couples need to make decisions concerning merged lives that began well before they had any official legal ties.

How do we handle the division of assets?

Though following the same legal process as any straight divorcing couple, the division of assets in a same-gender marriage can be challenging due to the recent nature of same-sex marriage. Many same-gender divorcing couples have co-habitated for several years before being legally married, since same-sex marriage only became legal in 2014 in Illinois and in 2015 federally.

Illinois couples face further complicated legal challenges because Illinois does not recognize common law marriage—the concept that, after a couple has co-habitated for a certain number of years, they are considered married without having to formally register as a civil or religious marriage. While other states recognize common law marriages, Illinois does not, regardless of the gender of either partner.

Thus, Illinois couples cannot engage in de facto marriages in which they acquire property or marital rights just by living together. In Illinois, you can only obtain property rights through legal marriage—and being in a romantic relationship doesn’t mean that you have legal rights to any shared property, such as a car or house. The division of assets is only based on the years in which a couple has been legally married.

If this situation pertains to you and you are concerned about your property rights, our divorce and family law attorneys at Stern Perkoski Mendez are here to help you understand the process and reach a solution that meets your needs and wants.

Are my child custody rights protected?

Creating a parental allocation (child custody) agreement that honors both parents—and, most importantly, the holistic well-being of a child or children—is always a priority for us. In most cases, we are able to work with clients to come to a child custody agreement that is in the best interest of the child and that both parents feel confident in.

In same-sex divorce cases, we want to assure clients that their rights are protected by Illinois law. In 2010, Illinois signed a law that extends the Dissolution Act and Parentage Act to presume the rights of same-gender couples. If a child is born within a same-sex marriage, both parents’ rights are protected by this law.

Our divorce and family law attorneys are here to answer any other questions you may have and provide support throughout this challenging process. At Stern Perkoski Mendez, we work to ensure that parents can come to a resolution that is in the best interest of the child, no matter what.

Contact Our Divorce Law Firm in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook

At Stern Perkoski Mendez, our goal is to ease the difficult transition of divorce by seeking a resolution that honors your wants and needs. Though same-sex marriage and divorce may be a recent legal development, our expertise, care and compassion make us well equipped to support same-gender divorcing couples.

If you are seeking assistance for an LGBTQ+ divorce, you can request a free consultation online or call us at (847) 868-9584. We can meet with you in our offices in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook, or at another location.

Our boutique family law firm is based in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook. We serve clients across Cook County and the North Shore, as well as Lake, DuPage and Will Counties.


“Josh was trustworthy and ethical, which most attorneys are not. He managed to help me reconcile with my wife and truly is an exceptional man.”

Michael, Evanston
For a free consultation, call Stern Perkoski Mendez at (847) 868-9584 or contact us.