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Lombard family law attorneysMany have said that being a parent is the hardest job in the world. It is nearly impossible to know how to respond to every challenge parenthood throws at you—especially when you are co-parenting your children with an ex-spouse. You may be unsure of how to work with your former partner in creating the best life possible for your children.

Problems at school present a variety of issues for many parents. Some children go through phases where they are getting in trouble or letting their grades drop, How should divorced parents deal with school issues such as these? There is unfortunately no owner’s manual for children and no one-size-fits-all way to raise them. However, following a few simple pieces of advice can help you and your ex-spouse come together to do what is best for your children.

Be Honest and Transparent With the Other Parent

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Lombard family lawyersIt is almost too easy to send a text message on your cell phone. It takes only a few moments to type out a quick hello or make plans with friends and family. More than six billion messages are exchanged every day in the United States—that is over 2.2 trillion each year! Unfortunately, the ease of sending a text message can sometimes get people into trouble, as they may send a message without thinking or in the heat of a moment. This can cause problems for those involved in legal proceedings such as a divorce or child custody battle.

Text Messages Last Forever

An individual who is going through a divorce or other matter of family law may experience a wide range of emotions. He or she may feel betrayed, spiteful, confused, and upset. Often, there is animosity and tension between spouses who have decided to end their marriage. Divorce is an especially emotional process, and there may be many things left unsaid between two former romantic partners who have called it quits. There may also be things that are said but that should have been left unsaid. This is when the ease of pulling a cell phone from a pocket and quickly sending a nasty text message can cause problems.

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Lombard family law attorneyIn Illinois, parenting time is established by your divorce decree or a stand-alone custody order and is not to be interfered with out of any misplaced belief that you are entitled to do so. What people do not understand, however, is that in many situations, attempting to interfere or interfering with your former spouse’s designated parenting time may actually render you liable for civil damages, and it may adversely affect your existing parenting situation. You must understand what constitutes interference and what does not.

Civil vs. Criminal Action

While interference with visitation is not uncommon, it rarely becomes a persistent problem because there are multiple remedies of both civil and criminal varieties that can be employed against the offending spouse. The Illinois Criminal Code classifies interference with parenting time as a petty offense, but if it occurs more than twice in the same circumstances, it is a class A misdemeanor. This may not sound like much of a punishment, but even a misdemeanor incurs fines, court appearances, other inconveniences that may cause a person to think twice about acting in such a fashion again. It may be difficult to convince prosecutors to file charges for such an offense, but the option exists in the law.

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Posted on in Family Law

Lombard family law attorneysWith the recent change in administration, many LGBTQ parents and family members have expressed concern over the possibility of modifications to current statutes and legal precedents that may affect them and their families adversely. Though many believe such fears unfounded, it is never a bad idea to double-check that all relevant legal documents, including adoption or birth certificates, marriage licenses, and travel documents are in order.

Marriages and Estate Planning

Perhaps the primary concern of many LGBTQ families is the issue of marriage equality. While a Supreme Court decision usually settles a matter, at least for some time, the new administration has given indications that it would like to see 2015’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges overturned. While a president cannot unilaterally overturn a Supreme Court decision, he may, in theory, appoint justices who can, and this causes real concern for many. President Trump’s appointment of Justice of Neil Gorsuch seemed to validate this concern among pundits and skeptics.

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Posted on in Domestic Violence

Lombard family law attorneysIf you have spent any time on the social media platform Twitter recently, you may be familiar with the hashtag “Maybe He Doesn’t Hit You.” The provocative message seeks to raise awareness about domestic violence—specifically psychological abuse.

Hidden Dangers

Psychological or emotional abuse often does not garner as much attention as physical abuse does. Physical abuse is often easier to spot because the victim may have visible bruises and scars or may need medical attention. Unfortunately, emotional abuse can go unnoticed by others until it becomes extreme. Even worse, many victims might not even realize that they are in an abusive relationship. People who have been victimized in the past or grew up with abusive or neglectful parents may consider certain abusive behavior to be normal. Victims of abuse may believe they deserve this damaging treatment because they are unworthy of more compassionate behavior. By sharing their stories of triumph over psychological abuse, men and women are taking the stigma out of discussing this form of domestic violence. The hashtag—a character used to track trending topics on social media—has been used in posts to share some gut-wrenching examples of psychological abuse, including:

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Lombard family law attorneyToday, many households are dual-income households in which both spouses work. For the well-being of the couple’s children, however, it can sometimes be beneficial for one spouse to embrace the role of a stay-at-home parent. In these cases, having a postnuptial agreement can help clarify each spouse’s responsibilities in case of a future divorce. Before one spouse agrees to take taking extend time away from his or her career, all the potential repercussions should be discussed.

Children Can Change a Couple’s Career Dynamics

Introducing children into a marriage means change, and some families decide that it would be better for one parent to be at home with the children. Despite advances in equality and changing social views on gender roles, it is still usually the wife who elects to put her career on hold and become the stay-at-home parent. In some families, it is more economically advantageous for the male partner to stay home, and this certainly does play out in many households. Either way, couples with children should consider making arrangements for their children and their finances in the event of a divorce.

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Lombard family law attorneysA divorce, as most people realize, can be extremely stressful for everyone involved. Children commonly have the most difficulty adjusting to all of the changes. Unfortunately, the effects of a divorce may be felt by your child for many years after the process has been completed. There are several ways—including some things you can do right now—to help your child cope with the end of your marriage.

Listen to Their Problems and Worries

Children, just like adults, feel loved and cared for when they know you are listening to them. This is more than just hearing what they have to say. Listening requires you to both be active in showing you understand what they are worried about while withholding any judgments or solutions until after the child is done sharing. Even then, it important to allow your children the freedom to experience their feelings. Attempting to control your child’s emotions or shaming him or her for feeling a certain way is not healthy and can lead to larger problems down the road.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard family law attorneysEnding a marriage through a divorce can leave a gaping hole in your life. You may feel lonely, depressed, unwanted, and bored. The way you used to spend your time and energy has changed, and now you want something new. Some divorcees want to avoid relationships for a time after splitting from their spouse while others are eager to start dating again. Is there a right time to start dating after getting a divorce?

Dating Before Your Divorce is Finalized

“Life happens” as the saying goes and sometimes you meet Mr. Right or Ms. Right before you are technically divorced. Many experts agree that dating during a divorce is not the wisest choice. You may choose to pursue a new relationship at this stage anyway, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

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Posted on in Child Support

Lombard family law attorneysIf your income has declined in recent months due to a change in employment or other factors, you may be struggling to make your court-ordered child support or spousal maintenance payments. You may also be wondering if there is anything you can do about it. Can you go to the judge and have your child support and maintenance payments modified accordingly?

Changing these, and other, financial provisions in a divorce is possible under Section 510 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Any party to the case can ask the court to modify the existing order if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” The statute lists a number of specific factors, as well as the general inclusion of “any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable,” for the court to take into account.

Change in Income

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DuPage County family law attorneysWe have all seen the tropes in movies and on television of regular clients at a beauty salon or barbershop. They come in for their cut, color, or style, and carry on a very familiar conversation with their stylist or barber. Unlike other media depictions, this type of scenario is extremely common in the real world. Many people—and especially women—come to view their regular hairdresser as a trusted friend and confidant. Thanks to a new law in Illinois, that trust will soon take a drastic step forward as licensed beauty workers have been tapped to join the battle against domestic violence.

Measure Amends Current Licensing Laws

Last summer, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill that requires licensed beauty workers—including hairdressers, braiders, barbers, cosmetologists, nail technicians, and others—to participate in domestic violence awareness training as a part of their licensing requirements. Initial training will be required for workers looking to obtain a license for the first time. For those who are currently licensed beauticians, an additional hour of ongoing domestic violence education will be added to the requirements for renewal every two years.

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Lombard family law attorneysWhen you share parenting responsibilities for your child with your former partner, things are not always going to be easy. You will almost certainly experience disagreements with the other parent over a variety of concerns including the child’s activities, your relationship with the child, and your ability to properly exercise your parenting time. Regardless of the difficulties, however, it is very important for you to continue following any orders entered by the court so that you do not put your parental rights in jeopardy.

Components of a Parenting Plan

Following a divorce or breakup of unmarried parents, arrangements must be made for the couple’s child or children. To facilitate the process, the law requires the parents to submit a proposed plan regarding each parent’s responsibilities for the child. Each parent may submit a separate proposal or they may develop one together. A parenting plan must contain a number of other elements, but the most important considerations include the allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities and a parenting time schedule. Once a parenting plan has been approved by the court and entered as an order, both parents must abide by its terms.

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Lombard adoption lawyersThe Chicago Tribune reports that there are currently more than 17,000 children in Illinois who are in foster care, with over 6,000 of them being cared for by non-relatives. In addition, there are approximately 1,000 children available for permanent adoption in the state on any given day. With so many children in need of loving homes, state officials are always looking for more couples and families who are willing to provide stability and care.

“We just don’t have enough people who have stepped forward,” said Susan McConnell, founder of a regional nonprofit group that advocates for adoption and foster care. Her group, Let It Be Us, has joined with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to promote participation in the state’s adoption and foster care programs among gay and lesbian parents. “We think that in the (LBGT) community,” McConnell continued, “there are people who would be good parents.

Increased Rates of Participation

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DuPage County family law attorneyDuring a proceeding for child custody—now known in Illinois as the allocation of parental responsibilities—your child may have strong opinions as to where they would like to live or how much time they want to spend with each parent. The amount that a child’s opinion affects custody decisions can vary from case to case and often depends on the judge’s discretion. There are several factors that a judge will take into consideration with regard to determining parenting arrangements, and the child’s wishes are often among of these factors.

The Child’s Reasoning and Decision-Making Abilities

Judges generally have some basic criteria they look for when deciding how much weight to give a child’s wishes during a custody proceeding.  These criteria can include but are not limited to:

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Lombard family law attorneyMany divorced or separated parents often struggle with their new reality of limited time with their children. This is quite often the case for a parent who has been granted a relatively lesser amount of parenting time compared to the other. While you may understand logically that creating an equal parenting time schedule is not truly possible in most cases, knowing that does not make it any easier to be away from your children. There is a way, though, to include extra possible parenting time in your agreement with your ex. It is called the right of first refusal and, when utilized properly, this right can offer both parents and the child substantial benefits.

Understanding First Refusal

When you have precious little time with your child, you may be looking for any and all possible ways to see him or her more often. Changing permanent arrangement or schedule can be rather complicated, but including the right of first refusal is fairly simple. When the right of first refusal is part of your parenting agreement, it means that your child’s other parent is required to offer you the chance to care for the child when he or she would otherwise need to make other childcare arrangements. In short, this means additional parenting time opportunities for you. As the name implies, you have the right to refuse the opportunity, but if parenting time is at a premium, may be unlikely to turn down such a chance.

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access to your child, Lombard family law attorneyWe all get angry from time to time and, often, we want to some sort of action against the person or entity who made us angry. This feeling is especially true for parents who have already managed to cope with the harsh realities of a divorce, separation, or break-up. If you are a recently-divorced parent, you are probably all too familiar with how it feels. You and your child’s other parent divorced for a reason—many of them, most likely—and there is a good chance that he or she will continue to behave in ways that make you very upset. At times, you will probably be tempted to keep him or her away from your child. While you are certainly entitled to your feelings, it is important to keep in mind that inappropriately restricting the other parent’s access to your child can create problems, not only for the other parent but for you as well.

Child Support and Parenting Time

Under Illinois law, child support considerations are made, in large part, without regard to how much parenting time each parent is allocated. From a subjective standpoint, of course, a parent who is more intimately involved with the child’s life may be granted a little more leeway in meeting his or obligations compared to a completely absent parent. Regardless, you do not have the right to dictate the other parent’s parenting time even if he or she is behind on child support. You have the right to petition the court for enforcement actions or to legally restrict parenting time, but if you deny the other parent access without the court’s approval, your own parental responsibilities and parenting time could be jeopardized.

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spousal maintenance, Orland Park family law attorneysOver the last several years, Illinois has been one of several states to review and update laws regarding spousal maintenance, or alimony as it is often known. In this state specifically, maintenance is to be awarded only when needed and justified by the circumstances of an individual divorce and is never presumed to be automatic. While the application of the law is up to each judge to apply his or her own standard of need to a case, the intended effect is to reserve such awards for only the most appropriate situations. Placing limits on spousal maintenance may create some difficulties for those who are recently divorced, but some experts are suggesting that these same limits may lead to overall positive changes in the way that women approach finances in both marriage and divorce.

Shift in Thinking

The law regarding spousal maintenance is technically gender-neutral, and there are cases in which men receive support from their ex-wives following a divorce. The reality is—as most people assume—that the vast majority of maintenance recipients are women, as alimony laws were generally intended to support women with financial disadvantages. Today, however, society, as a whole, is geared toward encouraging women to be professionally, personally, and financially independent. Reliance on spousal maintenance as an institution stands in direct opposition to these ideals.

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adoption, guardianship, Lombard family law attorneyWhile most people are familiar with the concept of adoption, many may realize that there are alternatives to adoption that can grant an individual certain authority over a child’s life. In Illinois, as well as other jurisdictions, it is possible to seek legal guardianship of a minor child. Guardianship, in many ways, is quite similar to adoption but is quite different in others. If you are looking to provide a loving home to a child in need, understanding the differences between the two can help you make the best choice for your specific situation.

Many Similarities

Guardianship of child grants you the legal authority to act as the child’s parent in virtually all areas of the child’s life. You become responsible for tending to the child’s day-to-day needs, as well as making medical, educational, and other decisions regarding the child. An adoption would provide you with all of the same authority and responsibilities regarding the child.  Both adoptions and guardianships in Illinois will only be granted if the child’s birth parents consent to the arrangement, have been found to be unsuited for providing such care for the child themselves, have passed away, or cannot be located.

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co-parenting, Lombard family law attorneyIf you are a parent, the decision to divorce your spouse or to break up with your child’s other parent will have an effect on more than just the two of you. Your children and the stability of their lives are also likely to be greatly impacted. While things may never be the same for your children as they were during your marriage, it does not mean things will necessarily be worse, just different. As you and the other parent look toward the future, there are some things you can do to help build a positive foundation for co-parenting together for years to come.

Find Common Ground

Every element of effective co-parenting is dependent upon your ability to communicate with your child’s other parent, despite the issues that may have driven you apart. More than likely, the two of you still have a great deal in common, and, at the very least, you both want what is best for your child. Using that as a basis, begin developing a parenting plan around the elements upon which you can agree, including who will be responsible for the majority of the parenting time, which school your child will attend and other fairly straightforward considerations.

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remarried, Lombard family law attorneyThere are many reasons why it may be difficult for you to see your former spouse on the verge of getting remarried. Some, of course, may be mostly nostalgic—a longing for the "good old days" when you were blissfully happy together. Others may be based on jealousy, if you are being honest with yourself. Your ex has found someone that is not you, and no matter what occurred between the two of you, being replaced hurts. Finally, there may be more practical concerns for you regarding the upcoming nuptials of your ex-spouse, especially if you have children.

No Right or Wrong Answers

The most important thing for you to remember as you think about the impact of your ex’s remarriage on your children and parenting arrangements is that there is no manual for dealing with the issues. Changes are almost certain but they do not need to be seen as negative. As long as you and the other parent can communicate and cooperate, you can continue to provide for your child’s best interests, allowing him or her to benefit from the addition of a stepparent. You will need to find a solution or approach that meets the unique needs of your family, allowing all parties to remain involved as a valuable component of the process.

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help, Arlington Heights divorce attorneysIf you have a friend going through a divorce, you probablywant to be there to support them, but knowing what to say and do can be tough. You may see your friend in pain, sadness, or depression, but have no idea how to best offer your support to them without invading their personal space. It might seem like a good idea to back off and allow your friend time to process and heal on their own, but in reality, the opposite is often much better. During the difficult divorce process, having the help of a close friend or family member is extremely beneficial. Here are a few tips to help you be the best friend to your friend during their divorce.

Listen

Your friend is facing a barrage of emotions. The simplest thing you can do for them is listen to them. Knowing what to say can be tough at times. He or she may be angry one day, then sad the next, the completely frustrated later. Rather than trying to think of the perfect response to each of their moods, simply listen to them. Venting is a healthy part of coping with and recovering from a divorce, so allowing them to express their emotions is one of the best things you can do. Let your friend lead the conversation, giving them room to discuss anything that is on their mind, and simply listen empathetically and provide help if you can. Also remember to avoid sharing your opinions. You may think that your friend’s divorce is a bad idea, or have some gossip on your friend&s soon-to-be ex, but your goal here to listen and provide support when possible, not weigh in with your personal thoughts.

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