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Rockford, Illinois Family Law Blog

Online dating and marriage

Internet and digital technologies have had impacts on a great many things in our world. This includes impacts on the way people meet partners.

Online dating got started in the 1990s and has been steadily gaining steam since then. It is now one of the most common ways people meet. Also, a fair amount of modern marriages have online dating at their root. It has been estimated that around one of every three marriages start online in today’s world.

What does the divorce process generally look like?

Once the decision to divorce is made, couples in Illinois may feel a sense of relief. However, they may also be concerned about how their divorce will proceed. It is important, then, to have a basic idea of what the divorce process looks like, so you can know what to expect.

First, one party will hire an attorney to draft a document known as the "petition" or "complaint." This document explains the reason for the divorce and how that party would like to see their divorce legal issues settled.

Illinois law now addresses the care of pets in a divorce

We all love our pets, whether they bark, purr, squeak or squawk. Referred to in Illinois as companion animals, our furry or feathery friends are truly members of the family. Due to the unconditional love they provide, it might go without saying that if the pet's owners divorce, each party may have an emotional attachment to their pet, and therefore may want to be the one to keep the pet once the split is final.

Illinois residents may be surprised to hear that historically pets were considered property for divorce purposes, and thus were subject to the equitable division of assets, just like the couple's house, furniture, motor vehicles and bank accounts were. This may seem rather callous, as oftentimes people may value their pets over their things.

Looking for signs of an impending divorce

Among the noteworthy celebrations that mark important events in life are wedding days. For many couples, it's a day of shared love, romance, pageantry and poetry. But let's face it: quite a few of those couples entering matrimony are going to one day experience divorce.

Wedding planners see every kind of couple preparing for the big day. Some of those couples -- and some of their families and friends -- display signs indicating that the marriage will at some point come undone. So what are those signs?

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.

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