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How Is Debt Divided During A Divorce In Illinois

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During a divorce, the separating parties, a mediator or a judge will decide how assets and properties are divided during a divorce. However, there is another financial aspect of a divorce that should not be overlooked when splitting – debt. Illinois considers debt marital property, but that doesn’t mean any debt is going to be divided 50-50. Below, we explain how debt is divided during a divorce, and we explain why having a family law attorney by your side during this process is essential.

Dividing Debt During A Divorce

Illinois is considered an equitable distribution state, which means that debt will be distributed fairly, not 50-50, between the couple. As you might have guessed, there are a number of factors that helps to determine what is fair when dividing debt. When the debt was incurred, whether the debt was for marital property and how much debt remaining all factor into this equation.

For example, if you and your spouse each bought a vehicle during your marriage and are now filing for divorce, you may assume that you’ll just keep your car and they’ll keep their vehicle. But if your spouse’s vehicle is paid off, and you still owe $15,000 on your truck’s loan, each taking a vehicle isn’t exactly a fair split. And while the judge won’t order your spouse to help out with payments on your truck, you may get more assets during property division since you’re also taking on more debt by keeping the truck.

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The Thanksgiving holiday stands out for many reasons, but it also holds a dubious distinction here in Illinois. It’s also one of the deadliest stretches on the roads.

Like George Clooney on the Andrea Gail, the Thanksgiving holiday is the perfect storm of factors that contribute to a spike in traffic accidents and fatalities. You’ve got:

  • More drivers traveling on the roads.
  • Worsening road conditions when winter weather sets in.
  • Extended time off can lead more individuals to consume alcohol and make poor decisions behind the wheel.

Not only are more people on the road because of the holiday, the extra time with friends and family provides ample opportunity to consume alcohol. If you get behind the wheel in the wee hours of the morning to go Black Friday shopping after drinking with the family after Thanksgiving dinner, there’s a decent chance you’ll be over the limit.

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When a loved one is arrested, your first instinct is probably to rush down to the police station and bail them out of jail. It’s an admirable response, but you shouldn’t head down to the station if there’s a chance you could end up in handcuffs too. An Illinois woman learned that lesson the hard way when she tried to bail her husband out of jail earlier this month.

Clarice Singer, the wife of Moultrie County Democrat Party Chairman Timothy Singer, was booked into Moultrie County Jail on DUI charges. That may not sound all that crazy in and of itself, but here’s where things get interesting. She was arrested on suspicion of DUI at the police station when she arrived to bail her husband out, who was arrested for drunk driving just hours earlier.

Husband and Wife DUIs

According to the police report, Mrs. Singer drove to the station to bail her husband out of jail. Mr. Singer had been booked into jail at 1:43 a.m., and Mrs Singer arrived to the station around 3:00 a.m. She then spoke to the same officer who arrested her husband, and the officer suspected that Mrs. Singer had also been drinking. At 3:18 a.m., the same officer who arrested her husband booked Mrs. Singer into jail on suspicion of DUI. You can see the charge sheet here. Mrs. Singer’s jury trial is set for 9:00 a.m. on February 3rd of next year.

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You’ve probably heard that a DUI can be expensive, which is why we always recommend that you contest the charges, even if you think the odds may be stacked against. However, many people aren’t fully aware of how a DUI can hit you in the pocketbook. A few months ago on the blog, we explained how your insurance rates can skyrocket if you’re convicted of a DUI. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at another significant cost associated with a DUI – the cost of an ignition interlock device.

How Much Does An Ignition Interlock Device Cost?

If you’re unfamiliar with an ignition interlock device, and most people are, you may assume that you just pay to have the device installed on your vehicle and you return it when your required time period is over. That’s an overly simplified version, and it ignores a few costs associated with the device. Here’s a breakdown of what the average person in Illinois will pay to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle for a year.

  • Installation – Before we even jump into the cost of the device, there is a fee to have it installed in your vehicle. Because it needs to hook up to your engine, it’s not a five minute install. The average cost of ignition interlock device installation in Illinois is $80, but costs can reach triple digits depending on where the work is performed and your vehicle type.
  • Rental Fees – You don’t buy the ignition interlock device outright, you rent it from the manufacturer or vendor. The average cost of monthly rental fees are about $85, and those will add up quickly. Over a 12-month period, rental fees will run more than $1,000.
  • Monthly Monitoring Fees – The rental fee isn’t the only recurring charge you’ll face in regards to your ignition interlock device. Because your results are saved and analyzed by a third party to ensure compliance with your court order, you also have to pay for these monitoring costs. These monitoring fees range in price, but they average out to about $30 a month, or $360 a year.
  • Removal Costs – Finally, when you’ve reached the end of your year with the ignition interlock device, there’s one last fee to pay – the removal fee. Again, the device isn’t just something you can unplug in a couple of minutes, so it’s going to take some time to remove it can ensure your car’s engine is working properly once the device is detached. This typically averages out to about $100 here in Illinois.

So when you add it all up, the average person in Illinois who has an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for a year will pay roughly $1,560. This is another hidden cost of a DUI, so while you might think that the fine from the court isn’t all that bad, you’ll be paying on the backend in the form of big insurance increases and monthly ignition interlock costs.

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Scott’s Law was a law that came to be after a Chicago firefighter was killed by a drunken driver while providing medical assistance on the side of the road. To ensure Lieutenant Scott Gillen was not forgotten and to reduce the likelihood that a similar accident would happen to a first responder, Illinois enacted Scott’s Law, which requires drivers to reduce their speed and move over a lane if possible when approaching any vehicle on the side of the road with their hazards on.

Although the law has been on the books for years in Illinois, it’s only been loosely enforced. In 2018, fewer than two people a day received a citation for violating Scott’s Law, as officers only handed out 728 citations on the year. But due to an increase in drivers striking emergency vehicles and a renewed effort to crack down on violators, tickets have spiked in 2019. Through November 3, police have already issued more than 6,000, more than eight times the citations handed out last year.

Fighting And Avoiding A Scott’s Law Citation

One of the reasons for the renewed effort to crack down on Scott’s Law violators is that there has been an increase in crashes with police and emergency vehicles. 26 trooper squad cars have been struck in 2019, including three just last week. Two officers died as a result of these collisions.

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The Most Common Traffic Violations In Illinois

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Millions of people drive to work, school or just run some errands in Illinois each and every day, but for a small percentage of those drivers, their day involves being stopped by a police officer for a traffic infraction. But which driving laws are Illinois residents breaking most frequently, and how can you best defend yourself against one of these traffic charges? We answer those questions and more in today’s blog.

Most Common Driving Infractions

You can probably guess some of the infractions that make the list, but here’s a look at 10 of the most common traffic infractions in Illinois:

  1. Speeding
  2. Failure to Stop
  3. Failure to Provide Proof of Insurance
  4. Failure to Signal
  5. Not Wearing a Seat Belt
  6. Violation of the Hands-Free Phone Law
  7. Reckless Driving
  8. Failure to Maintain Lane
  9. Driving Without a License or Registration
  10. Drunk Driving

If you are issued a citation for any of the above actions, your ticket will include the following information – the nature of the charge, the date and time of the incident, the location of the violation and the statute or ordinance you are accused of violating. The officer will ask you to sign the ticket, and you should do so. Signing the citation is not an admission of guilt. Your signature constitutes an agreement to either contest the citation in court or comply with the terms of the ticket. Failing to sign can lead to additional penalties.

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Common Halloween Crimes And How To Stay Safe

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Halloween is coming up quickly, and while it can be an enjoyable night for the whole family, it also provides an opportunity for mischief and crime. Police know this and will be out in full force, so we thought we’d take this chance to share some tips so you can avoid some legal trouble this Halloween. Below, we take a closer look at some common Halloween crimes and how you can avoid legal problems this Halloween.

Common Halloween Crimes In Illinois

Here’s a look at some of the more common crimes we get calls about in the days after an arrest on Halloween.

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A divorce is the most common way for two individuals to end their marriage, but it’s not the only way. Individuals unsatisfied with their marriage can also petition for what’s known as an annulment. The key difference between the two is that in a divorce, the state views the parties as having separated after marriage, while in an annulment, the state views the marriage as invalid and as if it never happened in the first place. One process is the legal ending of a valid marriage, and the other is the legal ending of what the parties hope to get declared an invalid marriage.

However, when it comes to an annulment, there are some more factors that need to be present and timelines that need to be met in order for the marriage to be declared invalid. We explore those factors and timelines in today’s blog.

Getting An Annulment in Illinois

Many individuals seek an annulment because of how their religion views divorce, but ultimately it doesn’t matter why you’re seeking an annulment as long as you meet the requirements for pursuing an annulment. You can file for divorce for something as general as irreconcilable differences, but for an annulment, you need to prove that one of these four reasons exist in your marriage. The four grounds for annulment in Illinois are:

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Illinois has some of the harshest laws in the country when it comes to texting and driving. Texting and driving citations are considered moving violations in Illinois, and if you get three or more moving violations in a year, you can actually lose your driver’s license. The fines also add up quickly, as the base fine for a first offense citation is $75 and easily hits triple digits when court fees are added. There’s also the possibility that the citation could affect your insurance rates.

When you consider all that you have to lose and that it’s often difficult for the prosecution to prove that you were using your phone behind the wheel, it should come as no surprise that more people are challenging the tickets in traffic court than ever before. Below, we explain how to put yourself in the best position to contest a citation for texting and driving in Illinois

Helping Your Case

The main evidence against you is going to be the observations of the officer who wrote your citation, but police also hope that you provide them with evidence during your interaction with law enforcement. You might try to get out of a ticket by saying you were only checking your phone to see the time or you were just putting it on speaker phone, but these aren’t going to fly with the officer. In fact, these statements will serve to hurt you if you’re going to contest your case. That’s statements are essentially admissions of guilt that you were in fact using your phone while driving, which is in violation of the law.

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We all make mistakes in our youth, but some mistakes can have longer consequences than others. However, a lot of teens and their parents don’t fully understand the true consequences of certain actions until it’s too late. We understand that you are going to be angry and frustrated with your child if they end up in handcuffs, but we can’t stress enough how important it is that you collectively make smart choices in the wake of an arrest or citation. Failing to do so can have lifelong consequences.

There’s no perfect playbook for how to handle the days and weeks after your child has been arrested, but there’s one thing every family should do, and that’s talk to a lawyer. Even if you don’t end up hiring the lawyer to defend your case, you’ll walk out of that meeting with a clearer idea of what your child is facing and how to best go about fighting back against the charges. You probably don’t need a lawyer for a misdemeanor speeding ticket or for a curfew violation, but if they were caught going over 100 miles per hour, found to be vandalizing school property or were accused of sexual assault, you absolutely need a lawyer.

Why A Lawyer Is So Important For Juvenile Crimes

If you get a call that your child has been arrested, you may be thinking that this is a great time to teach them a lesson. While we agree that a message needs to be sent, please don’t do it by forcing them to go through the legal system on their own. They can work on the weekend to pay you back for a lawyer or you can take away their driving privileges until they are 18, but don’t allow your anger to put them in a position where their whole life can be negatively affected. They made the choice that led to their arrest, but they shouldn’t be paying for those mistakes years down the road, and that’s exactly what can happen if they are charged with sexual assault or DUI.

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