Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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Five Common Questions About Divorce MediationMany spouses are turning to divorce mediation as an alternative to the lengthy and costly process of divorce litigation. Mediation involves the two spouses directly negotiating the terms of their divorce, with an impartial mediator guiding them through the process. By working together, the spouses can reach a mutually beneficial agreement without the vitriol that can come with litigation. You may be considering mediation for your divorce but are unsure whether the process is right for you. Here are the answers to common questions about divorce mediation:

  1. Is Mediation Only for Amicable Divorces?: Mediation works best when both spouses can cooperate with each other, but it can still work even if you and your spouse have a contentious relationship. Part of the mediation process is teaching you how to reach an agreement in spite of your differences. The mediator is there to help defuse unproductive arguments. The most important requirement for mediation is your willingness to communicate and behave reasonably.
  2. Is a Mediator the Same Thing as a Divorce Lawyer?: Many mediators are practicing family law attorneys, but their role as a mediator is different than that of an attorney. An attorney represents one side in a case, while a mediator is a third-party observer and advisor to the mediation process. Many spouses share the cost of hiring a mediator, while individually hiring their own attorneys who they can consult with outside of the mediation.
  3. Do I Still Need to Appear in Court?: If your mediation goes well, you will have two court appearances: filing for a dissolution of marriage at the start of the process and submitting your divorce agreement for approval at the end of the process. The court must review your agreement to confirm that it adheres to the state’s divorce laws and is not blatantly unfair to one party.
  4. What Happens If Mediation Fails?: The mediation process will end if you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse on part of your divorce settlement. Your case will likely move directly to litigation afterward. However, the mediation process may not have been a waste if you were able to agree on some parts of your divorce settlement.
  5. Is Mediation Faster and Cheaper than Litigation?: If successful, mediation could be a faster and less expensive process for you. You are saving time by having more-efficient negotiations and avoiding numerous court appearances. Saving time will also save you money on court fees and legal expenses. However, failed mediation could be slower and more costly because you will have used both mediation and litigation.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Mediator

When hiring a divorce mediator, you need to find someone with knowledge of divorce law and training in the mediation process. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce mediator at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can explain the mediation process to you. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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How to Reclaim Your Last Name During DivorceChanging your last name after your divorce is an empowering step that helps signify your disconnection from your husband. You have little reason to keep his name unless you want to share the same last name with your children. The process for changing your name can be fairly simple and quick if you want to revert to your maiden name. However, the name change will affect many aspects of your life, and it will take time to make all of the necessary updates.

Name Change Process

As part of your divorce agreement, you can decide to change your last name back to your maiden name, which the divorce court will approve. Taking on a completely new last name is a separate process that may take more time. If you did not reclaim your maiden name during your divorce, you can still change your last name after the divorce by:

  • Filing a petition to change your last name;
  • Publishing a notice in a local newspaper about your hearing to change your last name; and
  • Attending the hearing to decide whether to allow your name change.

Your name change hearing will likely be simple and without much argument. The purpose of the hearing is to make sure you do not have fraudulent motives to change your name and to give others the opportunity to object to your name change, which is rare.

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Continuing to Live with Your Ex After DivorceLeaving your marital home after your divorce can be difficult for both personal and financial reasons. Personally, you may no longer be living with your children and will see them less often. Financially, you will need to pay for a new home after previously investing in your marital home. If you think it would be easier to continue to live in your marital home with your former spouse, understand that there is a precedent for this living arrangement. However, you will need to settle legal issues and figure out how you can live separately within the same home.

How It Works

Divorcees who stay in the same home choose their own living areas where they can have privacy from each other. They can create a schedule for when they will use common areas, such as the kitchen. As part of the divorce agreement, they can clarify who is responsible for:

  • Upkeep of the home;
  • Purchasing food;
  • Paying bills; and
  • Deciding on changes to the home.

If they have children in the home, they will need a parenting agreement to determine when each parent will be responsible for the children. The schedule may look similar to one that the parents would have created if they were living separately.

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Marriage-to-Divorce Ratio Reaches Highest Level in DecadeThere are several formulas that researchers use to try to better understand the divorce rate in the U.S. The crude divorce rate compares the number of divorces to the total population, which can skew the number because it includes people who cannot marry. The refined divorce rate compares the number of divorces to the number of married women, giving a more accurate total. There is also the marriage-to-divorce ratio, which compares the number of divorces to the number of marriages. The National Center for Family and Marriage Research recently released a study that states that there were 2.2 marriages for every one divorce in the U.S. in 2017.

What Does It Mean?

It is common for there to be more marriages than divorces in a given year, even during periods when the divorce rate is considered high. The 2.2 marriage-to-divorce ratio is the highest that the National Center for Family and Marriage Research has recorded since it started the study in 2008, though it is still well shy of the estimated 3.0 ratio in 1970. Other facts to keep in mind include:

  • Illinois’ 2.55 ratio was the 10th highest marriage-to-divorce ratio in 2017 amongst the 50 states and the District of Columbia;
  • The District of Columbia had by far the highest ratio at 5.87, followed by Hawaii at 3.42 and Alaska at 3.26;
  • Maine had the lowest ratio at 1.34, followed by Alabama at 1.38 and Rhode Island at 1.53; and
  • Nearly half of the states saw their ratios increase from 2015 to 2017, while a quarter saw their ratios decrease.

Formula Limitations

Comparing the number of marriages to the number of divorces in a given year does not tell you how likely it is that the marriages will end in divorce. Most of the divorces involved people who were married in previous years, meaning that the married and divorced groups are not directly comparable. The formula also cannot reliably tell you whether the rate of divorce has increased from year-to-year. Theoretically, a spike in the number of marriages in a year could increase the marriage-to-divorce ratio even if the number of divorces remains consistent.

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Obtaining Health Insurance After Gray DivorceYour medical needs and their related expenses increase as you approach the age of becoming a senior citizen. This means health insurance is a vital issue during a gray divorce, a term that describes divorce between spouses that are age 50 and older. You need continued coverage, but it may be more expensive for you than for younger people who are divorcing. You must consider your health insurance expenses when negotiating your divorce agreement.

Coverage Change

Getting older typically means more frequent visits with doctors. You are also more likely to need an expensive medical procedure and be prescribed regular medication. Losing your health insurance would be devastating to your personal finances because you would be paying those expenses out-of-pocket. Getting divorced may change how you receive and what you pay for your health insurance. If you are already on Medicare, you can continue with that coverage. Otherwise, you will need to sign up for:

  • Medicare coverage;
  • Spousal Continuation Coverage;
  • Coverage through your own employer; or
  • Individual coverage through the health insurance marketplace.

Medicare

You will qualify to receive Medicare once you turn 65 but may be charged a premium for the coverage if you have not worked 40 quarters during your career, which is roughly 10 years. If your former spouse worked the requisite number of quarters, you can receive benefits from his or her Medicare plan, as long as you:

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