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Wheaton family law attorney legal separation

When a married couple is struggling to live in harmony under the same roof, one person usually moves out of the shared residence. The distance and time apart may allow the couple an opportunity to work through relationship problems and determine their next steps. For a couple who can no longer reside together, there are several options available, including divorce and legal separation. If you are struggling in your marriage and would like to discuss your next steps, a family law attorney can explain your rights and your legal options.

What Are the Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

A divorce legally dissolves the marriage between two individuals, while a legal separation acknowledges that the couple is still married but lives apart from each other. Divorce is a permanent decree, but legal separations may be either temporary or permanent. A couple who is legally separated may eventually decide to file for divorce, but they also have the option to end the separation and reunite. It is important to note that during the legal separation, the spouses may not get married to anyone else.

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Lombard, IL family law attorney for parental relocation

When a couple decides to end their relationship, it is probable that at least one of them will no longer live in the home they once shared. In some cases, both spouses may move out of the marital home following divorce and relocate to smaller dwellings. However, while moving to a new home may be necessary, parents should be aware of the restrictions that may apply when they plan to move with their children. In some cases, parental relocation may require approval from the court. If you are not sure how a potential move may impact your rights as a parent, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney to learn more about the child relocation laws in Illinois.

Why Do Relocation Restrictions Exist?

The parental relocation laws in Illinois have been put in place to protect a child’s bond with both of his or her parents. In cases that meet the criteria for relocation, the relocating parent must give the other parent at least 60 days' notice prior to the move, and they will need to receive approval from the court for any modifications to the parties' parenting plan. These restrictions ensure that all moves are made in good faith and that a proposed relocation will protect the best interests of the child. 

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DuPage County parenting time attorney

The dissolution of a marriage not only affects the divorcing couple but also any children in the family. Divorce often creates new living situations due to new jobs for the parents, which can result in a different school environment for kids. In some cases, one of the divorcing parents may move out of the family’s town or even out of the state. If you are facing a long-distance relationship with your child, speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney to learn about your rights and options and how a parenting plan can resolve these important issues.

What Is a Long-Distance Parenting Plan?

During a divorce, there are many details to sort out, and a divorce with children in the picture can be even more complex. The important child-related matters that parents will need to address include parenting time (formerly known as visitation) and the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as child custody).

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Lombard, IL spousal maintenance attorney

There are many reasons why a couple may decide for one parent to stay at home with the children rather than pursuing a career. In some situations, a family simply cannot afford childcare, so a parent may stay home out of necessity. Other families may choose to have one parent dedicate their time to caring for children and maintaining the household. Today, the role of homemaker is not limited to women. In fact, more fathers are becoming stay-at-home dads, according to research published in Psychology Today. Regardless of a person's gender or their reasons for becoming a homemaker, divorce as a stay-at-home parent can seem intimidating, and it can cause a great deal of uncertainty about the future. If you did not work outside of the home during your marriage, and you are facing a divorce, you will want to work with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the legal process of divorce and help you create a secure future.

Know Your Rights

Even if you were not your family's primary income earner, you still have rights regarding the property you own with your spouse and the income that was earned during your marriage. Under Illinois divorce law, marital property will be divided according to the principle of “equitable distribution,” and all property acquired during the marriage should be divided fairly, regardless of who earned the income used to purchase it. The contributions each spouse made to the marriage will be considered when determining a fair settlement. As a homemaker, even if you did not earn a financial income, you have still made many valuable contributions to your family, such as child-rearing, performing household duties (cooking, cleaning, doing laundry), and managing family finances.

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Wheaton high-conflict divorce attorney

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), data from the National Survey of Family Growth shows that 48 percent of marriages end when they hit the 20-year mark. Despite this evidence and the colorful divorce horror stories we all hear from our friends, family members, and neighbors, the reality is that not all couples who make up these kinds of statistics experience a toxic divorce. Many spouses are not only able to make a mutual decision to end their marriage, but they are also capable of navigating the process amicably, even acting as a team to ensure a smoother experience for everyone involved. 

Avoiding a Contested Divorce

Not every divorce is messy, but those that are can have the power to wreak havoc on your emotional -- and sometimes physical -- well-being, especially if you do not know how to handle the conflict.

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Lombard, IL holiday parenting plan attorney

For most people, holidays are spent with relatives and friends. This may include large gatherings with extended family members or a small celebration reserved for parents to spend time with their children. Regardless of your family holiday traditions, they typically include time spent with your kids. This may seem like second-nature to married couples; however, those parents who are recently divorced must learn how to navigate these special days differently. To ensure that both parents can have quality time with their kids, it may be necessary to adjust parenting schedules during the holidays.

What Is Considered a “Holiday” By the Court?

It can be difficult for the court to address specific holidays, since they can vary based on families’ traditions and religious beliefs. However, there are guidelines provided to help those formulating parenting plans pin down what they consider a holiday. Thanksgiving and Christmas may be the two that come to mind, but there are various other holidays throughout the year that divorcing couples must consider. Holidays that result in three-day weekends, such as Labor Day and Memorial Day, can be listed as holidays in your parenting plan. Because the children are off of school, this can allow parents to spend extra time with their kids. 

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Wheaton divorce parenting time lawyerThe divorce journey looks and feels different for every couple, with varying shades of complexity. From the amicable to the horrendous, divorces manifest in all kinds of distinct ways, depending on the circumstances surrounding the relationship and if children are involved. Something every divorce has in common, however, is that they are all emotionally charged events by nature. Regardless of how civil both parties are with one another throughout the process, everyone involved is bound to experience emotional pain and discomfort, especially as the divorce proceedings develop. Difficult issues can arise that must not only be discussed but also resolved between both parties in order to make progress and move forward.

Typical Setbacks and What to Do When They Happen to You

Conflicts, even small ones, are inevitable throughout the divorce process. Here are some issues that commonly cause setbacks for both parties during the transition and how to address them when they happen to you:

  • Parenting time conflicts - If you and your spouse share children, you may quickly discover that you have different ideas of what parenting time should look like after the separation. It is not uncommon for couples to think they are on the same page regarding child custody issues, such as who will get the children on weekends and holidays, only to find they have drastically different feelings once the divorce is underway. Parenting time conflicts can turn into time-consuming, ongoing battles if not addressed early on. A positive course of action is to work with a well-seasoned, qualified family law attorney to create a fair, cohesive parenting plan to submit to the court for review. Should any modifications be necessary, your attorney can guide you through these changes from start to finish.

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Wheaton child custody attorney

Whether your child is in elementary school or is an adolescent in high school, they may experience the same emotional roller coaster that parents do when their family is going through a divorce. No matter how amicable or peaceful the decision to separate may be between parents, no one in the family journeys through the divorce process entirely unaffected. If your child is exhibiting certain signs, he or she may be having difficulty with the divorce. As a parent, it is important not to ignore these behaviors and instead address them head-on in order to maintain a healthy relationship with your child.

Recognizing When Your Child Is Having Trouble Coping

While studies show that civil, respectful relationships between divorced spouses can help support healthy healing for children of divorce, the emotional impact of the breaking of the family unit is still hurtful. Trouble coping is natural and to be expected in the midst of a family divorce, but if you notice any of the following changes in your child’s life on a day-to-day basis, it may be a sign that they are having an especially hard time adjusting to the change:

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Wheaton high-conflict divorce attorney

When it comes to divorce in the family, no one is fully immune to its emotional effects. Even the most civil of interactions between divorcing spouses can be deceiving. What might seem at first to be a friendly, mutual agreement may actually be subtly rife with tension. Conflict can simmer, and it may surface over time as the divorce proceedings unfold. By nature, divorce is a very emotional event in one’s life, and it tends to stir up a myriad of feelings for both parties, especially as the experience begins to feel more real and moves closer to its final stages. 

Common Triggers in High-Conflict Divorces

Conflict in divorce often stems from sensitive issues like money and child-rearing. These topics can be very touchy for everyone involved, even when both parties are working together to resolve the problems. Here are some of the most common sources of conflict for divorcing spouses:

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Lombard estate planning attorneysThere are many reasons and situations that require an update to your estate plan. Divorce is one of the most common and potentially catastrophic situations. Unfortunately, it is also easy to overlook or forget. There are many loose ends to tie up once the divorce process is complete, and with more to manage, estate planning can easily slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, if something does happen to you before you have made changes to your estate plan, assets may not go to the people and places you had hoped. Do not let this happen to you. Learn what and when you should update in an estate plan after divorce.

Changing Your Beneficiaries

If you have a 401K, IRA, or other retirement plan, the beneficiary listed on your policy should be checked upon completion of the divorce. Of course, you may have to split some of your savings with your former spouse, but the remaining amount should go to you. If you do not want the remainder to go to your ex upon your passing, and he or she is listed as the current beneficiary, it is important that you change this in your policy. Alternatively, if you wish your spouse to be listed as a trustee for your children, ensure the policy and your other estate planning documents reflect this wish.

Updating Your Powers of Attorney

If you are like most people, you probably have your spouse listed as your power of attorney (the person that acts and makes decisions for you in the event of incapacitation). Now, it is possible to keep your spouse as your power of attorney, but few divorces end quite that amicably. Instead, you might want to consider naming a close friend, a sibling, a parent, or an adult child. Make sure they are someone you can trust to carry out your wishes.

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DuPage County family law and divorce attorney

When it comes to the end of a marriage, there may be no such thing as an easy divorce. Even couples who remain civil and separate amicably do not escape the end of the relationship without experiencing hurt and pain. Having to let go of someone you loved, possibly still love, and shared a home and a life with can be irrevocably damaging, regardless of the circumstances. Still, some divorces are flat-out toxic from start to finish and result in ongoing conflict and heated legal battles. A contentious divorce is undeniably the most taxing kind, as it takes a toll on the whole family mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Minimizing Divorce Stress 

Spouses can disagree about nearly everything in a contested divorce case, from the division of assets and debts, to spousal maintenance (alimony), to child support and parenting time. If you find yourself in high-conflict divorce and cannot manage to find middle ground on any topic, you may not be able to change the relationship dynamic, but you do have some power over how you handle the inevitable stresses of the divorce process. Psychology experts recommend the following activities to lighten your burden during this difficult transition:

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Lombard estate planning attorneysAs we all know, not all marriages stand the test of time, and a divorce can be a messy undertaking. In previous posts, we have discussed in a fair amount of detail how a divorce can affect a person’s already existing estate plan. In most cases, the divorce will nullify any provisions that pertain to the person’s spouse. But, did you know that the terms of a divorce settlement agreement could create obligations for a person to meet in his or her estate plan in the future? A recent ruling by an Illinois appeals court shows how such a thing could happen.

A 33-Year Old Divorce Agreement

In the case in question, a couple got married in 1963, had six children together, and got divorced in 1982. As part of their divorce settlement agreement, which was entered as part of their divorce judgment, each party agreed to create a will that left 50 percent of their estate to be divided equally among their six children.

In 2014, while suffering from a bone marrow disorder, the husband executed a new will and restated a trust, of which his new spouse was named a co-executor and co-trustee along with another person. The husband died three months later.

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Lombard, IL divorce lawyer

Divorce is a difficult time and transition for everyone involved, but children have a different experience altogether. Children often do not understand the reasoning behind the divorce and can blame themselves for the conflict between their parents. This is most common in young children but can also happen for older ones who have experienced their parents fighting throughout their lives. One of the most confusing parts of the divorce process is the transition from living under one roof with both parents to living part-time in two separate homes. 

Moving During Divorce

Custody arrangements look different for every family. Some share equal time with both parents while others only stay with their non-custodial parent on some weekends and holidays. While there are a variety of different arrangements, a house should feel like a home regardless of the amount of time a child spends there. The following are tips to make your house more comfortable for your child:

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DuPage County Divorce AttorneyAccording to the American Psychological Association, more than 90 percent of individuals from Western cultures marry by the age of 50. Sadly, in the United States, 40 to 50 percent of these marriages end in divorce. However, while the nationwide average is high, not every state has such a high divorce rate. Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau found that Illinois has some of the lowest divorce numbers in the country, with there being 9.41 divorced individuals for every 1,000 married couples in the state. Other states, such as Hawaii, New York, Vermont, and New Jersey, have similarly low divorce rates.  What common factors do these states have that causes the divorce rate to be so low?

Why the Reduced Numbers?

It can be difficult to determine what the variables in a good marriage are. Studies of these states have found that there are commonalities they all share:

  • Reduced Student Debt: A common cause of divorce is financial stress. A couple’s financial state can sometimes make or break their marriage, depending on their situation. This is especially common for couples in which one person works while the other stays at home. Large amounts of student debt can be an immediate burden added to a marriage, particularly if the working individual is using their paycheck to pay off their spouse’s debt. Many of the “top five” low divorce states had lower average amounts of student debt owed.
  • An Age Range Change: Getting married young is not as common as it once was. Unlike their parents and their grandparents, millennials are choosing to get married at an older age. This has been attributed to higher education levels and increased opportunities, especially for women. Marriages that are officiated when the individuals are older have been proven to last longer. Many of the individuals in these five states wait until closer to age 30 to tie the knot.
  • Higher Income: Similar to the first reason, less financial burden equals less conflict about monetary constraints. The Census Bureau reports reflect a correlation between high divorce rates and large numbers of people who live below the poverty line. The opportunities that are available to people with higher incomes can reduce stress for couples, thus making them happier in their marriage.
  • Fewer People are Tying the Knot: Do not let the statistics fool you; fewer overall marriages means fewer divorces. In Illinois, less than 65 percent of people are married. This may also be attributed to higher education levels and greater independence for all genders, reducing the social requirement to get married. 

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney for Assistance

Illinois divorce rates may be some of the lowest in the country, but many marriages within the state do still end in divorce. It is important to seek out an experienced attorney to help you with the legal issues that must be addressed during your divorce thus allowing you to focus on the life changes you are about to experience. If you are considering filing for divorce, contact a Lombard, IL divorce attorney at 630-426-0196.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard, IL divorce lawyers

Whether you call it empty nest syndrome or a mid-life crisis, many couples struggle when their children leave home and they go back to their previous “empty house” lifestyle. This life change can be a tough adjustment since a parent has gotten used to having their child living under their roof for 18+ years. Spouses are used to focusing on their child’s schedule and activities. This can make an empty house feel lonely and uncomfortable, sometimes so much so that divorce enters the equation. 

What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

Although it is not technically diagnosed, the commonality of empty nest syndrome illustrates its wide-reaching effect. Feeling a strong sense of sadness and loneliness after your children have moved out is the telltale sign of empty nest syndrome. Other symptoms include a lack of identity, extreme remorse, and a lack of self-worth. This lifestyle change can lead to clinical depression and apathy toward your spouse. Many feel as if they no longer have anything in common with their spouse since they have shared their child and the duties of parenting for the past decade. Although this can create a distance between spouses, there are various coping mechanisms for those who feel their emotions may be causing conflict.

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DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Divorce may have been taboo in the past but it is far from uncommon in today’s society. Statistics fluctuate year-to-year, but divorce rates are actually decreasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of Illinois had one of the lowest divorce rates in the country in 2017. From 1990 to 2017, Illinois’ divorce rate decreased from 3.8 to 1.9 divorces per 1,000 people. The number of divorces may be decreasing, but the common reasons for divorce have essentially remained the same.

Infidelity

This is one of the most common reasons for divorce because a single action, or a series of them, can break down an entire marriage. Cheating on a spouse often begins as an innocent friendship and eventually transforms into a physical affair. Infidelity usually results in divorce because many couples see this as an act of betrayal that can never be forgotten.

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Lombard, IL Divorce Attorney

The annual military divorce rate is not as high as many people believe. The divorce rate has remained at 3 percent over the last four years. Numerically speaking, 21,290 of 689,060 married troops divorced in 2017. 

The legal issues surrounding military marriage and divorce can be difficult to understand, as military law is different than civilian law. Over the past few years, many changes have been made regarding military pension and its division with divorcees. 

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DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

Abuse comes in various forms, and unfortunately, many people experience some form of abuse in a romantic relationship. The three most common forms of abuse are physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. While the definitions of physical and sexual abuse are fairly clear, emotional abuse can be difficult to detect.

Emotional abuse is classified as using a person’s emotions against them as a weapon of control. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly half of women and men have experienced psychologically aggressive behavior by an intimate partner. Emotional abuse may not be easy to recognize, but it is one of the most common forms of abuse that occurs between partners and often leads to divorce.

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DuPage County stepparent adoption attorneyBecoming a step-parent can be an overwhelming life change, whether you have biological children of your own or not. Approximately 40 percent of American families are blended families, making stepparenting a common occurrence. It can be a challenge to balance the desire to befriend your spouse’s child and earn their affection with the need to parent them when the time comes. Many stepparents form strong bonds with their stepchildren, and they should be sure to understand their rights and legal obligations both during their marriage and if divorce ever enters the picture. 

Throughout the Marriage

  • Discipline: Many stepparents leave discipline to their spouse, especially when they first join the family, but as time goes on, more and more responsibility can get placed in their hands. It is important to have a conversation with your spouse about parenting expectations. Though it may not feel like it, you must remember that discipline is intended to benefit the child, and as a parent, the child’s safety should be your first priority.
  • Education: Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), stepparents are allowed to receive and review their stepchildren’s school records. FERPA defines a parent as "an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian,” thus giving stepparents educational rights in regards to their stepchild.
  • Traveling: There is no law stating that stepchildren and stepparents cannot travel alone together; however, it is important to have both biological parents’ permission, unless the stepparent has adopted the stepchild and become their legal parent. There are also consent forms that can be signed to ensure no legal action is taken against the stepparent.

After Divorce

  • Custody/Visitation: Stepparents and stepchildren often share relationships similar to biological parents and their children, especially when this relationship existed for most of the child’s life. If the biological parent decides that the stepparent cannot have visitation rights after divorce, there is often not much that a court can do, unless the stepparent has formally adopted the stepchild. Once the divorce is finalized, a stepparent will lack the biological and legal ties to the child that guarantee parental rights. A stepparent does typically have the right to request visitation, but the court may not grant visitation rights.
  • Solidifying Legal Rights: The only way to ensure legal rights of the child is through adoption. Many stepparents decide to adopt their stepchild, especially if the child’s other biological parent is no longer in the picture. It is easier to adopt the child before divorce, because the biological parents’ permission is required for an adoption.

Contact a Lombard Adoption and Divorce Attorney

Blending families and learning to be a good stepparent can be challenging tasks. Stepchildren often feel like one’s own children, and the possibility of losing the connection with them after divorce can be unthinkable. Our DuPage County family law attorneys can help you address your legal concerns regarding adoption, divorce, or other issues regarding your stepchildren. Contact us at 630-426-0196.

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Lombard divorce lawyer irreconcilable differencesThroughout the history of marriage, adultery has been socially frowned upon as a betrayal of trust, and it often leads to divorce. Public opinion and religious beliefs are often believed to be the driving factor behind these negative views, but the laws regarding marriage also play a role. However, many people do not understand how these laws may affect them.

The Legality of Adultery

As is common with most laws, the way adultery is defined and handled varies from state to state. What many fail to realize about adultery is that in Illinois, it is considered against the law and can result in legal repercussions. Illinois is one of 18 states that have made adultery a crime. Illinois law defines the act of adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse, if:

  • The person is married and knows the other person involved in such intercourse is not his spouse; or 
  • The person is not married and knows that the other person involved in such intercourse is married.

Based on the law, if two parties engage in such action, and their actions are “open and notorious,” they are committing a misdemeanor, which can be punished by up to a year in prison. However, even though this law exists, it rarely results in criminal prosecution, so a person is unlikely to actually receive jail time for their extramarital activities. 

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