Zuba & Associates, P.C.

Rockford Illinois Legal Blog

Long-term view vital for effective money decisions during divorce

Unfortunately, people often make mistakes when negotiating their divorce settlements. Advice about post-divorce finances could help spouses in Illinois avoid money problems after the end of a marriage. People should focus on the future and the possibility of unforeseen life changes.

For example, former spouses sometimes assume that their financial status quo will continue for years. Financial decisions, such as agreeing to pay for a child's college based on a current salary, could unravel if the parent loses a job or suffers a disabling injury. In that situation, the money would not be present, and an obligation to pay tuition might become impossible.

How child support relates to social services

Many Illinois single parents are struggling to get by and support their children, especially if they are making their own way without child support from the other parent. In some cases, they may apply for public assistance, especially if they are facing poverty. This can be especially likely when the other parent was previously responsible for carrying the majority of family expenses. However, when a single parent applies for government assistance and social services, one of the first inquiries he or she is likely to face from that office will be about his or her child support situation.

In some cases, a person may have a child support order in effect, but the other parent is delinquent on payments or outright refuses to pay. In other cases, especially between unmarried parents, there may be no child support order in place at all. This situation is unlikely to persist after a government benefits application, however. The government will encourage the single parent to file for child support or will file its own child support action to seek reimbursement for public assistance expenses it has incurred.

Less than 70 percent of child support is received by parents

Child support can help custodial parents make ends meet when they have to raise their kids alone. Despite the misconception that many single parents in Illinois live lavish lifestyles funded by their ex-spouses, the facts show the opposite. The mean amount of child support that custodial parents are court-ordered to receive is about $500 a month. More than half of the parents who are owed child support don't receive the full amount. About a quarter don't get any child support at all.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, only about half of the 13.4 million custodial single parents have a child support order. Noncustodial parents paid $32.9 billion in 2013, but that was only 68.5 percent of what was owed to the custodial parents. On average, custodial parents only receive about $329 a month to help with all of the expenses associated with raising their children.

Illinois Senate votes to allow medical marijuana in school

On May 17, the Illinois Senate passed a bill that would allow sick students to use medical marijuana while attending school. The bill, which passed by a vote of 50-2, has been forwarded to Gov. Bruce Rauner for approval. It isn't yet known if he will sign it.

The bill, which is called Ashley's Law, was named after a 12-year-old girl who is prescribed medical marijuana to control epilepsy, which she developed after undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia. Ashley wears a patch and uses a lotion that contains cannabidiol. The small amount of THC present in her medication controls her seizures, but it does not get her high. Still, her parents had to file a federal lawsuit against her school before it would allow her to take her medication while attending classes.

The benefits of establishing paternity

Establishing paternity is an important step that all Illinois parents should take, especially if the parents are not married. Although many parents or potential parents only think about the child support aspect, there are numerous other benefits for both the child and the parents.

The legal benefits that the child gets from having paternity established does include the right to certain financial benefits. Child support may be used by the custodial parent for food, housing, medical needs and education costs. However, the financial benefits can also include the right to death benefits, such as Social Security or veteran's benefits. Establishing paternity also gives the child the right to access the parent's medical history for any genetic medical issues that may be in the family.

Drivemode reports looks at driver texting habits

According to data from Drivemode, motorists in Illinois and throughout the country are most likely to text between the hours of 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. During that hour, drivers sent an average of 6.87 messages. Of 6.5 million message analyzed, 22 percent were sent between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. The data was collected from 177,000 users of Drivemode's app over the course of a year.

While 49.8 percent of drivers sent traditional text messages, others used apps such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to communicate. Those driving in New York, Florida and Hawaii sent messages at a rate higher than the national average during the 5 p.m to 6 p.m. hour. The CEO of Drivemode pointed out that commuters tend to use the morning rush hour to listen to music or partake in other activities. However, during the afternoon rush hour, they are more likely to be communicating with their families or tying up loose ends at work.

Study casts doubt on the effectiveness of distracted driving laws

The use of cellphones and other electronic devices by drivers is prohibited in Illinois, but a study released recently by a startup technology firm from California suggests that distracted driving laws actually do very little to make the nation's roads safer. After analyzing anonymized data gathered from its customers, San Francisco-based Zendrive found that cellphone use by motorists rose in 2017 in virtually every state. The figures also indicate that distracted drivers may be a far more severe road safety hazard than government agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believe.

According to figures released by NHTSA, about 660,000 motorists use cell phones while driving each day. However, Zendrive believes that this number dramatically underestimates the scale of the problem. The technology company puts the number of distracted drivers at 69 million, which indicates that six out of 10 drivers in the United States engage in this hazardous behavior on a daily basis. Motorists in Mississippi are America's most distracted according to the Zendrive study and spend almost 8 percent of their time, or about five minutes each hour, looking at electronic devices.

Drunk driving blamed for 28 percent of traffic fatalities in 2016

Recently a Chicago-area man with 16 previous drunk driving convictions was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The sentencing judge noted during the hearing that no one in Cook County courthouse had likely ever seen anyone with so many DUI convictions.

Alcohol-impaired driving is a serious matter in the United States. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 10,500 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2016 involving drunk drivers. That number represented 28 percent of all the traffic fatalities recorded that year.

Financial steps to take in preparing for divorce

When people in Illinois are considering getting a divorce, they may want to take certain steps to prepare financially for the process ahead. The first step should be to organize financial information. This may include getting copies of financial documents and putting them somewhere safe, such as with a friend or in a safe deposit box.

Many couples have joint financial accounts. Individuals who are thinking about getting divorced may want to consider opening their own separate accounts and also establishing individual lines of credit if they do not already have one. Taking this step may be particularly important for people who do not earn an income since the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 has been changed to allow spouses who do not work to apply for an individual credit card using household income.

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Zuba & Associates, P.C

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Rockford, IL 61107

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