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Rockford, Illinois Family Law Blog

Divorce rates are higher for certain occupations

People in Illinois who work in industries that involve travel or nightlife might be more likely to get a divorce than those who work in professions with more stable hours. FlowingData recently presented information from the 2015 American Community survey indicating that scientists, actuaries, software developers and some medical professionals were the least likely people to get a divorce.

Divorce was much more likely for flight attendants, bartenders and casino workers. The data also showed a correlation between income and divorce. Other professions with a lower divorce rate were those that tended to be more popular in rural areas, such as fishing, forestry and farming.

Preserving the ability to retire after divorce

Illinois couples who are planning to divorce should take steps to protect their ability to retire. There are several mistakes that people should avoid so that they can protect their retirement security.

Getting divorced can be expensive, leading some people to consider tapping into their retirement accounts in order to pay for their legal fees. If they take withdrawals from their 401(k)s or IRAs before they are 55 or 59 1/2, however, they will be assessed early withdrawal penalties of 10 percent on top of having to pay taxes on the amounts that they withdraw.

How shared parenting can help children and parents

While mothers still tend to get custody of their children in over 80 percent of divorce court rulings, Illinois parents who are ending their marriage could consider another alternative. Research increasingly supports the idea that shared parenting is better for children, and it is the norm in some countries such as Sweden. Some states have passed laws that encourage this kind of joint custody while others are considering doing so.

A shared parenting arrangement allows both parents to be more equal. This means that a mother can have more opportunity in the workplace since she does not have to be the main caregiver while a father has the opportunity to be more to a child than simply the breadwinner. Children benefit from the opportunity to build strong relationships with both parents.

How child support formula changes may help parents

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average noncustodial parent pays about $430 in child support each month. That translates to about $5,160 a year. However, a change to Illinois law may lower that amount for parents paying child support in the state.

Under the new law, child support payments would take several factors into account such as how much the custodial parent makes in a year. It would also take into account how much time a child spends with each parent. The child's health care expenses would also be taken into consideration under the new formula that was signed into law in August 2017. The old formula required noncustodial parents to pay a set percentage of their income based on how many children they had. A parent with one child would pay 20 percent of his or her income to the custodial parent.

Coparenting and consistent rules between households

When Illinois parents of young children end their marriage, they need to create consistent rules between their households. Children need this degree of stability after the upheaval of a divorce. Before sitting down to discuss these rules, parents should think about what they are willing to compromise on and what rules they can be flexible about. Older children may want to join this meeting and give some input into what the rules should be.

There are resources that can help parents reach an agreement. Family law courts, attorneys and therapists may all have recommendations for parenting classes. These classes may impress upon a reluctant parent the dangers of inconsistent rules between households. Such classes might also establish parenting norms. Another option is a mediator who can help talk parents through their conflict to reach an agreement.

Avoiding a toxic relationship with an ex after a divorce

When Illinois parents of young children divorce, they must continue to work with each other in order to help raise their children. Co-parenting may be more difficult when one spouse is toxic in his or her dealings with the other parent. There are several things that parents can do to help their children and themselves when this is the case.

It is fairly common for some parents to feel as if the other parents are toxic even when they might not be. In some cases, the parents are simply still dealing with some of the issues that remain from their divorces. People can still minimize the conflicts and enjoy better co-parenting relationships by implementing several strategies.

Establishing paternity with DNA testing

When Illinois couples who are unmarried have babies, parentage may later have to be determined if the couples break up and there are custody and child support disputes. An unmarried man is not automatically presumed to be the father of a baby. Instead, his paternity must be legally established for child support to be ordered or for the man to gain custody or visitation rights.

One of the ways that paternity may be established by the courts is DNA testing. Either the mother or the alleged father may file a petition with the court asking for DNA testing. The court may then issue an order for both the alleged father and the child to submit DNA samples for testing. The samples are normally taken by using cotton swabs to wipe the insides of the cheeks. If the DNA tests come back positive, the man will be found to be the legal father. Child support may then be ordered, and the father can seek to establish his parental rights.

Advantages and disadvantages of divorce mediation

When Illinois couples decide to end an a marriage, it launches a whole process that requires more decisions. Mediation could come up as an alternative to litigation that exposes people to arbitrary court decisions. Mediation brings the estranged spouses together so that they can be heard and negotiate the terms of a divorce settlement. For appropriate candidates, the process could save money on court costs and reduce the adversarial nature of litigation. The benefits do not always emerge, however, and the process might not be a good fit for everyone.

In the experience of one family law attorney, mediation works well when both parties want good outcomes for each other. The two people need to display a willingness to listen to each other. A person considering mediation also needs the ability to advocate for his or her self interest. Someone unable to stand up for important personal issues might give in to demands too easily. A victim of domestic abuse is generally not viewed as a good candidate for these reasons.

Closing a joint bank account in a divorce

Closing a joint bank account is one of the many tasks an Illinois couple may have to undertake if they decide to get a divorce. It is best to close the account together if possible to avoid any misunderstandings although it may not be necessary to have both parties present. People should take a photo identification and prepare to fill out some paperwork in order to close the account.

Any automatic payments made from the account need to be cancelled before the account is closed. People should also make sure that any deposits have cleared through the account. Ideally, the assets in the account should be divided before closing the account. A couple may be able to agree about how they will divide their assets or it might be necessary to go to court. In court, a judge will decide which assets are considered shared marital assets that need to be divided, and the joint bank account may be included among those along with income and other assets acquired during the marriage.

About child support calculators

Illinois parents who have young children and who are contemplating a divorce may question how much child support a non-custodial parent is supposed to pay. Child support calculators found online may offer an estimated amount that is far different from what a judge may order, as they are not as precise as many people may think.

A child support calculator may be one of the online tools a state may provide so that parents can use their financial information to estimate their child support payments. The information the calculator may request may include the monthly incomes of both parents, the amount of time the child spends with each parent and any type of benefits or tax credits the parents may receive.

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