Recent news stories claim that young people are getting married less often, and when they do get married, the age at which they marry is much older than previous generations. It seems that more couples are “cohabiting”–living together without being married–either as a precursor to marriage or they have decided to not get married at all. Cohabiting couples can live together for many years, and even decades. Cohabiting couples have children together, and one of the members of the couple could decide to leave work in order to raise the children. If these long-term cohabiting relationships end, there could be serious issues, such as untangling property and finances. Illinois does not have “common law marriage”. So unmarried couples in Illinois are unmarried regardless of how long they may have been living together. Some states recognize cohabiting relationships, and a person in one of these relationships can petition their Court for an order addressing property and even “palimony.” Generally, Illinois is not one of these states that recognizes palimony, and a cohabiting couple typically cannot ask an Illinois court to divide property or award financial support simply due to the length of the relationship. In fact, Illinois is one of the more conservative states in its refusal to recognize palimony. Most states vary in their approach to this issue. In light of Illinois’ refusal to recognize palimony, some cohabiting couples enter into a contract discussing property division and other important issues in the event their relationship ends, though there are specific requirements that must be met in order for the agreement to be treated as a valid contract. Unmarried couples who have children together generally can ask the Court to enter decide issues related to custody and support for the children, but the Court’s inquiry and power is typically limited to the child-related issues. If you have questions about your “palimony” situation, call the Chicago family law attorneys at The Witt Law Firm, P.C. at (312) 500-5400 or email info@thewittlawfirm.com. The above blog post does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your jurisdiction.