Zuba & Associates, P.C.

Rockford Illinois Legal Blog

Student loan debt can lead to divorce

For many couples in Illinois, finances are one of the major sources of stress on a marriage, leading to arguments and irreconcilable differences. One major source of financial pressure on many marriages is student loan debt. On average, American student loan borrowers owe $34,144 in loans, and the average student who graduated from college or university in 2017 carried $39,400 in outstanding education debt. Many people have to make substantial payments each month to address the debt, and they may also find it difficult to take steps like obtaining a mortgage for a home until the educational debt is paid down.

Over a third of student loan borrowers in one survey said that their loans, as well as other financial issues, played a role in leading to divorce. Of the respondents, 13 percent named student loans as the specific factor that led to the end of a marriage. The stress of student loans has grown as the amount owed has also grown; the average outstanding balance has gone up 62 percent in the last 10 years while the percentage of borrowers who owe at least $50,000 has gone up three times over.

Adjusting to co-parenting after divorce

For some Illinois parents, dealing with child custody can be one of the most emotionally and practically challenging aspects of divorce. Joint custody or visitation schedules can be difficult because the parent will no longer have full-time access to the children. However, there are some guidelines that can help parents develop more successful co-parenting experiences. They should start by keeping the child's best interests in the forefront at all times.

While a parent may not be interested in connecting with their former spouse shortly after the divorce is finalized, the same is generally not true of the children. Both exes are still their beloved parents, regardless of why the marriage ended. This means that it is important for a divorced parent to encourage the children's communication with the other parent and work to support their emotional and physical connection. Of course, in cases of abuse or neglect, this does not apply. For the majority of families, however, both sets of parent-child relationships must be nurtured.

Why there is a rise in prenups among millennials

Couples in Illinois who are in the 18-to-34 age group may be more likely to get a prenuptial agreement if they decide to get married than the same age group would have done in previous decades. While the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers reports that there has been a surge in couples asking for prenuptial agreements, the jump in younger people asking for them is more recent.

One reason is that many millennials carry a significant amount of debt. Much of this debt is from student loans, and in 2017, the average college graduate had more than $38,000 in debt. People getting married are concerned that after a divorce, they will be responsible for part of the spouse's debt, and a prenuptial agreement may be created to prevent this.

Financial surprises divorcing individuals may experience

Although the divorce rate across the nation remains at about 50 percent, many Illinois divorcees are not aware of just how much of an impact divorce could have on their finances. For women, in particular, the financial surprises can be particularly difficult to deal with once the divorce is finalized.

A study surveyed more than 1,700 women who were in different stages of divorce, which ranged from preparing for divorce, in the midst of the divorce process and those who had finalized their divorce. Thirty-eight percent of the participants who were over the age of 55 said that they experienced financial surprises, and approximately half of the participants who were under the age of 55 said that they experienced financial surprises.

Driving on your medication may land you behind bars with a DUI

Many Illinois citizens require the use of prescription medications to regulate body functions or emotional health. Operating a vehicle while taking some medications prove incredibly dangerous to both you, other drivers and pedestrians.

If you drive while taking certain medications, a court may convict you of a DUI. A judge may require you to pay significant fines, suspend your license and even make you serve jail time. If you are on prescribed drugs, you must be sure that you are sober enough to operate a vehicle. Your life depends on it.

What happens when a parent fails to pay child support

When some Illinois parents get divorced or separate, one parent may be held responsible for paying child support. These payments are supposed to be made monthly to help the custodial parent provide for the children. However, some parents do not understand how the system works, potentially making them blame the courts for their financial situation.

There are many myths surrounding Child Support Enforcement Offices, especially when parents fail to pay the monthly amount of child support that they owe. One common myth some parents believe is that their ex-spouse has a say in how much the parent makes, meaning that the ex-spouse could lie to the court in order to get the money. This is not the case. The Child Support Enforcement Offices attempt to track down parents for nonpayment. If the parent cannot be found, they will impute an income for that parent based on the last job he or she had.

Distracted driving may be increasing accident rates

Distracted driving is being blamed for an uptick in fatal car accidents throughout Illinois and the rest of the country over the past four years. Researchers from the University of Utah, with help from AAA, conducted a study of drivers to find out how much attention in-car technology demanded while driving. Even though some devices allowed drivers to pay more attention to the road than others, most of them had some element of distraction. Researchers found that both mobile and automated technology had a negative impact.

According to the study's findings, youth are much more susceptible to being distracted by tech than older people. It showed that drivers 17 to 22 mess with their phones for a roughly 12 percent of the time they're driving. Youth, however, are not alone when it comes to distraction. Research going back to the start of automated tech in airplanes shows that regaining attention after a distraction is particularly difficult.

The importance of updating documents after divorce

Illinois residents should be aware of the importance of updating documents such as life insurance beneficiary forms when there are major life changes. Forgetting this step can have complicated legal consequences and lead to additional expenses later on.

When a person without a will dies, an ex-spouse who had been the beneficiary on the life insurance policy could claim and receive the money. This is true even if the deceased person's intent had been for other relatives to receive it. Such was the case in Life Assurance Co. of Canada vs. Jackson. In that case, the man's original beneficiary was his uncle. In the man's divorce decree, however, he named his daughter as beneficiary but did not change the form officially. When the man passed away, the uncle received the insurance money. The daughter sued and won. The insurance company appealed, but the appeals court agreed with the original sentence, basically declaring that the divorce decree, which is a court-issued document, was above the insurance policy, which was a private contract.

The importance of formalizing a child support agreement

Illinois custodial parents might wonder if and when they should file for child support. While not every custodial parent will need child support or a formal agreement to receive it, there are a variety of reasons why it is recommended to officially file.

For example, it's important to formalize a child support agreement by filing it with a court if the custodial parent depends on the financial support provided by the other parent to meet their child's needs. These needs can include shelter, food, clothing, medical care and other necessities. The custodial parent may also file for support if the other parent has filed for custody. Even if the ex is only seeking visitation rights, many parents choose to file for support during this time since they will already be headed to court to sort out custody.

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.

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Zuba & Associates, P.C

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6067 Strathmoor Drive
Rockford, IL 61107

Phone: 815-397-7000
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