When Cohabitation Can End Spousal MaintenanceSpousal maintenance payments in a divorce agreement often have a set duration, based on how long the spouses were married. In Illinois, the maintenance payor can petition to terminate the payments before the end date if the recipient has remarried or is living with someone else in a de facto marriage. Determining whether someone has remarried is straightforward, but the two sides may disagree about whether the recipient’s cohabitation is fulfilling the same role as a marriage.

Weighing the Evidence

Cohabitation becomes a de facto marriage when a spousal maintenance recipient is in an intimate relationship that includes financial support or codependency. Illinois law refers to it as living with someone on a resident, continuing conjugal basis. Illinois courts use six factors to determine whether cohabitation reaches this status:

  • The length of the relationship;
  • How often the cohabitants are together;
  • What type of activities the cohabitants do together;
  • How connected their financial affairs are;
  • Whether they vacation together; and
  • Whether they celebrate holidays together.

Recent Case

In the case of In re Marriage of Walther, an Illinois appellate court granted a man’s request to terminate spousal maintenance payments because his former wife’s cohabitation with another man qualified as a de facto marriage. The woman began seeing her new romantic partner while she was separated from her husband and moved into an apartment near him during her divorce. After the divorce, the woman slept at the man’s house on a regular basis for about a year. Her daughter moved into the man’s house about halfway through that period. The woman and her daughter eventually relocated to a new apartment after the man’s sister kicked them out of the residence. The appellate court cited several factors that pointed to this relationship being a de facto marriage:

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The Best Divorce Parenting Plan for InfantsNo age is too young for your divorce to emotionally affect your child. Infants do not understand divorce as a concept, but they notice changes in their routines and their parents’ emotions. Unlike older children, they cannot express how they feel in words, leaving them only their behavior. It is common for young children of divorce to become irritable, clingy, depressed, or anxious. Your parenting time is vital towards your young child’s development because he or she needs regular contact with both parents to develop bonds of support and trust.

Consistent Routines

Children form their attachments with their parents during infancy, and missing that stage of bonding can affect a child-parent relationship for the rest of their lives. A parenting schedule usually gives the children extended visits with each parent, but the frequency of bonding time is more important with infants that duration. Two hours every day or every other day may be sufficient bonding time for the non-primary parent. When creating a parenting plan for your infant, remember that:

  • Your child needs your undivided attention and care during your parenting time;
  • Your scheduled visits should be consistent and include familiar routines;
  • Long visits are more appropriate when you see your child frequently; and
  • An infant will become distressed if away from his or her primary caregiver for an extended period.

Breastfeeding

There is no law dictating whether a mother or father should be the primary parent of a child, but the mother receives a majority of the parenting time with an infant in most cases. A mother can use breastfeeding as one of the reasons that an infant should primarily live with her and that the father should not have long or overnight visits with the child. Breastfeeding is important for infants because it can:

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Examining the Divorce Rate Amongst Military MembersStatistics from the Pentagon show that 3.1 percent of the married members of the U.S. Military divorced in 2017. The Pentagon calculated the percentage from the number of married members at the beginning of the year and the number of reported divorces by the end of the year. It is difficult to compare the military divorce rate to the overall divorce rate in the U.S. because they are collected and measured differently. The national divorce rate is expressed as the number of divorces per 1,000 people. Still, military divorce data can show trends and subgroups that have a higher rate of divorce.

Divorce Numbers

The military divorce rate has remained around 3 percent for the past four years, while the number of military members who are married has dropped to around 51 percent. Researchers consider millennials to be largely responsible for the declining marriage rate, which also means fewer divorces. However, the military marriage rate is still higher than the national average. Other military divorce statistics show some interesting trends:

  • The U.S. Air Force has typically had the highest divorce rate of any military branch;
  • A recent study claimed that first-line enlisted military supervisors who are younger than 30 have a 30 percent divorce rate, which is the highest divorce rate of any occupation in that age group; and
  • Female military members have consistently higher divorce rates than their male counterparts, with some studies suggesting that their divorce rate is double.

Reasons for Military Divorce

All divorces occur for reasons that are specific to that marriage. However, military members and their spouses face several stressors that can contribute to a divorce:

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Four Rules for Personal Boundaries After DivorceThe habits that you form with your spouse during your marriage are difficult to break, even after your divorce. It seems obvious that you should not remain in contact with your ex-spouse unless it is necessary, such as with co-parenting. However, you need to adjust to the new personal boundaries that your divorce created, which is not easy because of your close relationship with your former spouse. There are four rules for respecting your former spouse’s boundaries:

  1. Do Not Ask Your Ex for Help: You may have relied on your former spouse to fix problems during your marriage, such as household repairs, car troubles, or tech support. You may feel tempted to continue asking him or her for help with these problems, even though you are no longer together. Doing this puts your former spouse in an awkward position. You should seek help from other friends and family or hire a professional.
  2. Do Not Pry Into Your Ex’s Personal Life: You will be curious about the details of your former spouse’s personal life and how he or she is doing compared to you. Keeping tabs on your spouse is an invasion of privacy and unhealthy for you. Do not ask personal questions when you see him or her. Do not ask your children for updates. Do not stalk him or her on social media.
  3. Do Not Disturb Your Ex’s Parenting Time: A reasonable parenting agreement should allow you to contact your children if needed during your former spouse’s parenting time. However, you should not abuse this by having long phone conversations with them or crashing activities that your former spouse has planned for them. Give them space so they can build their relationship with their other parent. 
  4. Do Not Show Up at Your Ex’s Home Unannounced: When your former spouse receives your marital home in the divorce, it becomes his or her private property. You do not have the right to enter the property without permission just because you used to live there. Contact your spouse in advance if you have a reason you need to go inside his or her home.

Giving Each Other Space

Your divorce agreement will establish many of the personal boundaries between you and your former spouse. You will decide who owns each marital property and how to allocate your parental responsibilities. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you create a divorce agreement that respects your boundaries. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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When to File for Denial of PaternityAs a father, you cannot forgo your financial obligation to your biological children, even if you no longer see them after divorcing or separating from their mother. However, you may not be required to make child support payments if you are not the child’s father. Family law courts prefer for a child to have two legally established parents for purposes of support and security. If the court presumes that you are the father, you will need to file a form stating that you deny paternity of the child.

Establishing Paternity

Illinois law assumes that you are the biological father of a child if you were married to the mother during the child’s conception or birth. If you have never been married to the mother, you can still be the legal father if:

  • You sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form;
  • Illinois Child Support Services enters an order than names you as the father; or
  • A court rules that you are the father during a paternity suit.

You should not sign a VAP form if you are uncertain about whether you are the child’s father. You have 60 days to rescind a VAP after its effective date. After the deadline, a court will rescind a VAP only if you can prove that you signed the form under duress or based on fraud or a material mistake. A genetic test can clear up any doubt about your paternity.

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Goostree Law Group

Goostree Law Group

 555 S. Randall Road, Suite 200
St. Charles, IL 60174

 630-584-4800

 400 S. County Farm Road, Suite 300
Wheaton, IL 60187

 630-407-1777

Our Illinois divorce attorneys represent clients in Kane County, DuPage County, Kendall County and DeKalb County, including Geneva, Batavia, St.Charles, Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, Virgil, Lily Lake, Aurora, North Aurora, Elgin, South Elgin, Bartlett, Crystal Lake, Gilberts, Millcreek, Maple Park, Kaneville, LaFox, Yorkville, Oswego, Plano, Sugar Grove, Big Rock, Bristol, Newark, DeKalb, Sycamore, Naperville, Wheaton, West Chicago, Winfield, Warrenville, Downers Grove, Lombard, Oak Brook, Streamwood, Hoffman Estates, Barrington, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Schaumburg, Big Grove, Boulder Hill, Bristol, Joliet, Kendall, Lisbon, Minooka, Montgomery, Plainfield, Sandwich, Yorkville and many other cities.

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