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Surviving the Holidays as a Blended Family Although many strive for a personal rendition of the idyllic Norman Rockwell holiday when the winter season comes, those facing the challenges of a blended family may only revisit feelings of loss, sadness and even anger, often emotions associated with a recent divorce or remarriage.

Noted professionals offer numerous suggestions to ease the tension between blended families during the holiday season.

Fran C. Dickson, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Communication at Eastern Kentucky University and featured contributor to Communications Currents, a publication of the National Communication Association, offers the following advice to blended families as means for exhibiting better behaviors throughout the holiday season.

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Posted on in Divorce
divorce mediationWhen your family is in transition, you need to find a way to bring matters to a conclusion and move on to the next chapter of your life. That is not always easy to do in a divorce or child custody case because there is so much emotion involved and, even for couples who stay together, child rearing issues never really go away. An experienced family law mediator can step in and help. Before we get to the heart of the matter, there is an important preliminary issue. It is very important to seek out an attorney-mediator who is certified in family law. Some other professionals may not understand all the financial, emotional and legal questions involved in Illinois family law matters.

Cost

Divorce is expensive. One oft-quoted statistic is that the average divorce costs $15,000. Although the number of extremely costly divorces in America may artificially drive up the average, one thing is certain: divorce is always more expensive than you had originally anticipated. Mediation reduces legal fees. Rather than spending months preparing for a three- or four-day trial, attorneys may spend a few days preparing for a mediation that lasts a few hours. Generally speaking, there is also less pretrial discovery, which means fewer hours that the lawyer must bill on the case.

Civility

Court hearings take place in a highly-charged emotional atmosphere. The opposing parties often sit only a few feet away from each other, and events occur in rapid-fire succession. Conversely, most mediations occur in a cluster of conference rooms in an office building where the atmosphere is quite informal. After the parties make their opening statements, they generally retire to separate rooms where there are long moments of inactivity which act as "cooling-off" periods. The parties are more focused on getting things done, and there is very little emotional drama.

Control

Mediation increases compliance. Parties are more likely to follow a mediation order as opposed to one that was handed down by the judge. You may tell your son to clean his room, and maybe he will. But if your son decides for himself that his room is dirty, he’s more likely to clean it. This effect is magnified if, as is often the case, one person has control issues or problems submitting to authority. Mediation does not work in all cases, but it is nearly always worth a try. For a consultation with our experienced Arlington Heights family law attorneys, contact A. Traub and Associates at (847) 749-4182.

financially threatened spouseWhen a couple is going through the divorce process, emotions are usually more intense for both the husband and wife. Even the slightest remark or action by one spouse can seem amplified to the other, causing a strong reaction.

Often, anger becomes the driving force and all kinds of threats are made. This can be especially true if one spouse was the predominant breadwinner in the family and feels they have the upper hand in divorce negotiations. Threats of taking away the children or leaving the other spouse broke and homeless are common themes in acrimonious divorces. And whether or not the spouse making the threats could actually follow through with them does not always matter. Threats like these can leave the other spouse feeling stressed out and intimidated, or even frightened.

There are steps that a financially threatened spouse should take to ensure that they are protected emotionally and financially. These steps include:

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equitable property divisionIllinois, like the majority of states in this country, is not a community property state when it comes to dividing up the marital estate during a divorce. Instead, the decision is based on "equitable distribution" of a couple’s assets. Equitable distribution does not mean assets are split in half, with each spouse receiving 50 percent. Instead, it is the court who decides what an equitable and fair division is.

In some cases, spouses are able to negotiate an agreement between themselves, or with the help of their attorneys, and the judge’s signature is a formality needed to make the agreement legal. In many other cases, however, a judge is the one who makes the decision of what is an equitable distribution based on the evidence each spouse introduces into trial.

There are several factors a judge will consider when making his or her decision. These factors include:

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signs of marriage troubleIs your marriage in trouble? There are signs that marriage and family therapists say can be indicators that a marriage is headed for divorce court. They are also good indicators if you have been struggling with the decision to divorce of where exactly your marriage is at.

  • Do you find yourself no longer consulting or valuing your spouse’s opinion or input? From serious topics, such as work issues, to plans for the weekend, making decisions on your own without even broaching the subject with your spouse, especially if this is something you always did in the past, is an indicator of a breakdown in communication.
  • Another sign there could be serious problems is if you do not consider ever putting your spouse’s needs or wishes ahead of your own anymore. As one therapist put it, making yourself "king or queen of the castle" is a sign something is wrong.
  • Has the ebb and flow of giving in the relationship now been replaced by a scorecard of what you do and what your spouse does?
  • Do you feel like you are living with a partner or with a roommate? Partners work together, making plans for the future and achieving goals together. Roommates share the same space but live singular lives. They pick up after themselves, cook their own dinners and buy their own food, etc., without considering or including the person they live with.
  • Do you purposely hit your spouse’s "hot button" to try to get a reaction from him or her? In healthy relationships, we learn what things are upsetting to our spouse and try to avoid those actions. That’s not always the case in marriages that are breaking down.
  • Do you still date? Even married couples need to court and woo each other, just like they did when dating. Love notes, little gifts, and wanting to look good for your spouse are all things that help keep the romance in a marriage.
  • Do you still talk? Not just talk about problems or issues that come up, but do you and your spouse enjoy conversations with each other about anything? If you barely communicate with your spouse, unless it is about who needs to pick up the kids or take the dog to the vet that can indicate a marriage in trouble.

Do you think a lot about what life would be like without your spouse in it and envision it as a much happier and better life than it is right now? If you are thinking about divorce, contact an Arlington Heights family law attorney to find out what legal options you may have.

latchkey kid, single parent, parenting, Illinois family law attorney, divorce attorenyLatchkey kids. For many, these children live in single family homes either due to divorce or explanatory absence of one parent. The concept of latchkey kids dates back to World War II, when fathers left to serve and mothers entered war effort industries. Often awarded a key, dangling from a piece of string placed around their necks, latchkey kids arrived at an empty home and waited for mom to finish her shift. World War II moms often opted for the swing shift, requiring them to lock the door and slip off to work while their children slept. The country realized this was an issue, and promptly set up community centers where Latchkey Kids could safely await mom’s arrival.

These types of programs ended shortly after the war, leaving Americans still wondering how to work, support families and ensure the safety of their children. Sixty-nine years later, latchkey kids remain a societal issue of today’s generation.

Home Alone Act II

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Doug and Chris Maulden-Locke, from Virginia, moved from Maryland and then back to Virginia again during the process of adoption. The couple waited to get through the pre-adoption background checks for eight months before finding a baby in just 10 days. The couple had to go before a Maryland judge for the final adoption approval, a process that has been challenging for same-sex couples before. With the unique nature of pursuing adoption as a same-sex couple, hiring an adoption attorney is more important than ever.

In some jurisdictions around the country, it’s rare for judges to approve adoptions where same-sex couples are involved. Slowly, however, judges and jurisdictions are paving the way for these individuals to bring a new child into the homes of loving parents. Although decisions used to be made on a judge-by-judge basis, the greater cultural trend of valuing the potential societal value of qualified same-sex adopted parents is making it easier for these couples to grow their families.

In Illinois, there are several requirements to be an adoptive parent. These individuals can be single, married, or divorced. In some cases, these individuals or parents may already have birth children, but those who do not are also eligible to adopt. These parents must be able to financially manage the addition of a child to the family (no strict income requirements are in place, however). The adoptive parents must be free of criminal histories that would stop the adoption licensing process, and they must have space for another child in their home. Home ownership is not required.

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Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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