Butler Giraudo & Meister
Peoria 309-407-3332
Morton 309-263-1204

When do laws against marrying your father go too far?

Before the Obergefell decision, before Illinois passed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, LBGT couples had to find creative ways to ensure they had the same rights that a married couple would have. They relied on durable powers of attorney that granted them the right to visit their partners in the hospital or to make major medical decisions for one another. They relied on trusts and complicated estate planning tools to make sure their partners did not lose out on death benefits that automatically flow to legal spouses.

One couple in Pennsylvania has made headlines recently because they took advantage of another option. To ensure that their estates would pass to one another without a hitch, one partner adopted the other. While they have been together for 40 years, they have spent the last three as father and son. According to CNN, adoption was not uncommon for LGBT couples.

Now that marriage is an option, though, the 78-year-old man and his 68-year-old partner would like to be married. Pennsylvania state law, however, bars close relatives, even relatives by adoption, from marrying. In fact, the same rule applies in Illinois and more than 20 other states, by WealthManagement.com's count.

As a result, they must undo the adoption. And that's not easy.

The judge was sympathetic to their problem but denied their request. He did so, however, with the understanding that an appellate court would address the issue. A court of appeals has more clout than a trial court, and this is an important matter. The case is on the calendar for December.

The couple plans to marry as soon as the adoption annulment goes through.

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