Zuba & Associates, P.C.

Rockford Illinois Legal Blog

Avoiding joint debt after divorce

Along with the many other concerns of dissolving a marriage in Illinois, soon-to-be exes often have to worry about splitting joint credit card debt. Experts recommend leaving a marriage with no joint debt. While this may seem difficult to achieve, there are ways couples can work together to eliminate joint debt during the divorce process.

Joint credit card debt is particularly worrisome to divorcing couples because credit card companies do not have to adhere to divorce decrees. So if a person fails to pay their debt, their ex-spouse might be held responsible for that debt, even after the divorce is final. One way couples can avoid this is by paying off joint debt during the divorce process, by either using joint savings or home equity lines. Another way couples can avoid this type of debt coming back to haunt them is by dividing up the debt from joint credit cards and transferring it to their individual cards. With both options, joint credit cards need to be canceled during the process.

Tips for talking about finances before marriage

A study by Experian in 2017 found that more than half of couples said finances were a factor in their divorce, and an additional 20 percent said finances played a large part in their split. Couples in Illinois should talk about finances before they get married.

Engaged couples may want to consider a prenuptial agreement. While these are rare, with only 2 percent of couples getting one, they are on the rise among millennials. A prenup is not just about preparing for divorce; making such an agreement forces couples to talk extensively about their finances.

Keeping winter travel safe

Illinois residents who are concerned about winter driving should consider several tips that could make travel safer. Preparing a vehicle for winter and checking the weather ahead of time are both important safety measures.

Being aware of a vehicle's technology is another way to make winter driving safer. For example, many new vehicles come with traction control. This feature makes it less likely for a vehicle on icy, wet or snowy surfaces to slip and lose control. Traction control is especially useful when accelerating from a stopped position or when a vehicle needs to climb an icy hill. A National Safety Council campaign called "My Car Does What?" helps educate drivers on new technologies such as traction control.

Addressing concerns of irresponsible parenting during a divorce

The divorce process itself can be a source of stress and uncertainty for anyone choosing to end a marriage in Illinois. It will be even more challenging if children are involved and one parent suspects that the other one is acting irresponsibly around them. This is essentially the gist of a story one man shared online that illustrates the potential complications associated with untying the knot for parents. In this particular instance, it's the father who is concerned about his spouse's alcohol abuse around their son.

The spouse in question is also preventing the father from seeing the child and telling him that she wants to delay filing for divorce. Additionally, the father claims his wife does not properly care for the child and he fears that she may be intoxicated while driving with their son. In a family law matter like this, a judge would likely ask to see evidence of irresponsible behavior. Most states have emergency child custody guidelines in place that may be applied to cases of this nature.

NSC finds flaws in each state's police auto accident reports

A recent report from the National Safety Council has shown that every state fails to provide fields and codes for the reporting of all critical car crash factors. This leaves everyone in Illinois and across the U.S. with incomplete police reports and a compromised ability to determine and address the various causes of auto accidents.

The NSC lays out 23 safety-critical factors. The best states were Kansas and Wisconsin, but they only capture 14 of those factors. This is followed by Maryland, Kentucky and Nebraska, which only capture five. No states have fields for the reporting and measuring of driver fatigue or the reporting of driver assistance technology use. Only three states have provisions for reporting infotainment system use.

Study shows car crashes are likelier with each hour of lost sleep

The U.S. Department of Transportation and other agencies state that one in three adult drivers fail to get seven hours of sleep a night. Drivers in Illinois should know that the recommended amount is between seven and nine and that lack of sleep can raise the risk of car accidents. Drowsy driving is to blame for an estimated 7 percent of all vehicle crashes in the U.S., which amounts to about 330,000 crashes every year.

Studies show that the risk for a crash occurring increases with every hour of sleep that's lost. SLEEP, a medical journal, has published a recent study showing that those who sleep six, five or four hours are 1.3, 1.9 and 2.9 times more likely to crash. Drivers who sleep fewer than four hours raise their risk a startling 15.1 times, and their behavior behind the wheel will be similar to those whose blood alcohol level is 1.5 times the legal limit.

Divorce and dividing financial assets

One of the most contentious issues in a divorce can be what happens to the financial assets. That's why divorcing Illinois couples should keep in mind all the tax implications of a separation.

For couples who are 50 and older, the divorce rate is twice what it was in the 1990s. For those who are at least 65 years old, the rate is almost three times what it was. The division of assets for these older couples can be very complicated due to the higher likelihood that older couples will have well-funded pensions, IRAs and 401(k)s. Care should be taken with dividing these types of assets as there can be unexpected tax implications if they are divided in the wrong way.

Divorce risk higher for couples who live together before marriage

It's fairly common for couples in Illinois and other parts of the country to opt to live together before considering marriage. The logic behind arrangements like this is that cohabitation prior to legally tying the knot gives two people a chance to see how well-suited they really are for one another. However, when couples who have lived together eventually get married, their risk of divorce may be greater according to findings from a study on this topic.

For their study, researchers looked at data from women in the United States 44 years of age and younger on their first marriages over a 45-year period. Based on the results, the study's authors believe what's termed the "premarital cohabitation effect" appears to be true in that people who live together before exchanging vows are more likely to end up seeking the services of a family law attorney due to marital struggles.

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Rockford, IL 61107

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