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Divorce Rates Continue to Decline in Illinois, U.S.When it comes to citing the divorce rate in the U.S., it is popular to claim that half of all marriages end in divorce. It suggests that divorces are on the rise and that the institution of marriage is crumbling. While there was a point starting in the 1970s when divorces suddenly increased, it has been about 40 years since the divorce rate was at its peak. Most divorce studies agree that the supposed 50 percent divorce rate is no longer accurate – if it ever was. Statistics point to two marital trends in the U.S.: The divorce rate is going down, but so is the marriage rate.

Looking at the Trends

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released a report on marriage and divorce rates from 2008 to 2018. The report calculated its rates by counting the number of women who were married or divorced for every 1,000 women age 15 and older. According to the report:

  • The national marriage rate decreased from 17.9 in 2008 to 16.6 in 2018
  • The national divorce rate decreased from 10.5 in 2008 to 7.7 in 2018

Illinois actually went against the national trend. While its divorce rate decreased about the same amount as the national average, its marriage rate increased slightly. As compared to the other states, Illinois has one of the lowest divorce rates and a marriage rate that is almost exactly the same as the national average.

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Why Illinois Uses ‘Allocation of Parental Responsibilities’ Instead of ‘Child Custody’In 2016, Illinois made major changes to its law regarding parents who have divorced or separated. The term “child custody” was replaced with “the allocation of parental responsibilities,” and “visitation” was replaced with “parenting time.” These were more than simply new names for legal terms. They represented a new approach to co-parenting that the state hoped would be better for children. This summer will mark the five-year anniversary of the bill that created these changes being signed into law – making it a good time to revisit what these terms mean and what they are trying to accomplish.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Child custody is a common term in family law statutes across the country and in popular vernacular. In Illinois, the law at one time granted sole or joint custody of the children following a divorce or separation. Illinois changed its laws so it is assumed that both parents will share responsibility for the children, including:

  • Dividing parenting time in a way that is best for the children
  • Determining how the parents will raise the children
  • Defining what decision-making power each parent has and when they must get the other parent’s consent

The word “custody” is often associated with one parent having primary control over the children. Illinois changed the term to “the allocation of parental responsibilities” because it better describes how each parent has rights and responsibilities and an important role in continuing to raise the children. “Custody” is now used to describe when a non-parent assumes responsibility for a child.

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How Do You Continue Your Health Insurance After Divorce?Divorce changes your life in many small ways that you do not consider when you start the process. Health insurance is a good example of this because spouses are commonly on the same insurance plan. You have little to worry about if your spouse was on your employer’s insurance plan. Your children can remain on your family plan, or you can switch to an individual plan if you do not have children. If you were on your spouse’s insurance plan, you may be able to receive insurance through your own employer. Your divorce makes you immediately eligible to enroll in or change your insurance plan. If health insurance through work is not an option, you have other options that you need to consider.

Continuation Coverage

Illinois law allows you to stay on your former spouse’s health insurance for a limited time. If you are younger than 55 at the time of your divorce, you can continue the coverage for two years. If you are older than 55, you can continue the coverage until you are eligible for Medicare. There are several requirements for receiving continuation coverage:

  • Your spouse’s insurance must be a group plan.
  • You have 30 days after your divorce judgment to notify your spouse’s employer of your intention to continue coverage.
  • You must pay the same premium as you would if you were an employee on the plan.

Continuation coverage is only a temporary solution and may be difficult to afford if you have a low income. However, it prevents a gap in your health insurance coverage and buys you time to come up with a long-term solution.

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Three Financials Disputes That Can Affect Your DivorceMoney is a common issue for married couples to argue over. So, it should be no surprise that financial strife is one of the most common reasons that people give for getting divorced. Unfortunately, these same money problems can continue during your divorce negotiations. Because it is important to come out of a divorce with financial security, you should understand how different financial problems from your marriage can affect your divorce. Here are three examples of monetary disputes that divorcing spouses may have:

  1. Heavy Debt: The stress of being unable to keep up with debt payments can break your marriage. Part of your divorce will be figuring out how to divide your marital debts, which you share just like with marital properties. You can divide the debt based on which of you was more responsible for each debt or which of you is more capable of repaying it. Your divorce agreement should state which debts each of you are responsible for in case a creditor comes after you because your former spouse failed to repay the debt.
  2. Different Spending Habits: Sometimes, your attitude towards how you spend your money can lead to disagreement, even if it does not cause problems with debt. You or your spouse may be more comfortable making big purchases, spending on luxury items, and going into short-term debt. This can cause a disagreement during your divorce on what are necessary expenses and how much spousal maintenance one of you should pay. Creating a responsible budget is an important part of life after divorce, and you should not be subsidizing your former spouse’s reckless spending.
  3. Financial Infidelity: A person commits financial infidelity when they hide major expenditures or assets from their spouse. The betrayal of trust can destroy your marriage if you discover financial infidelity, but there are also practical concerns you must address during your divorce. Are you liable for debts that your spouse created without your knowledge? Is your spouse still trying to hide assets that should be included in the division of marital property? You need to investigate the extent of the damage that your spouse’s financial infidelity has caused.

Contact a McHenry County Divorce Attorney

Divorce is a chance to improve your financial future, whether you believe that your spouse’s decisions were harming you or you are trying to break bad habits from your marriage. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can discuss how to stabilize your finances after a divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Should You Be Flexible with Your Parenting Plan?A parenting plan is a detailed outline that divorced parents use to determine how they will share their responsibility for their children. It can take great effort to create a parenting plan, particularly if the parents disagree on how to divide parenting time and raise the children. Once you have hammered out and approved a parenting agreement, does that mean you should never deviate from it? There are some situations when being flexible is best for your children and beneficial to you and your co-parent. In other situations, it is important to defend the integrity of the plan.

When to Be Flexible

Co-parents sometimes discover that they need to adjust their parenting plan because it is not working the way they intended. You need to request a modification of your parenting plan in court if you want to make a permanent change to the plan. What if you have an unusual situation in which deviating from your parenting plan this one time makes the most sense? This most often occurs with parenting time schedules, such as when:

  • A parent is not available during their normal parenting time
  • A child’s schedule temporarily conflicts with parenting time
  • An emergency occurs and a parent needs someone to look after the children

It is impractical to go to court for every one-time change in your parenting plan. Instead, you and your co-parent should discuss how you can temporarily adjust your parenting plan to fit your unusual circumstance. Your parenting agreement can even state that you will allow changes to the plan for isolated situations as long as both sides agree to it.

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