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DuPage County family law attorney child custody

In Illinois, the term “child custody” was replaced by the “allocation of parental responsibilities” in 2016. Instead of one or both parents having “custody” of their children, the parents are expected to create an agreement that allocates the parental responsibilities and parenting time—formerly known as visitation. This agreement is called a parenting plan, and it involves careful consideration to create one that makes the children’s well-being a priority. 

What Is a Parenting Plan?

When getting a divorce, the parents of children must decide how the children will be taken care of after the separation. A parenting plan will be drafted that explains which parent has what responsibilities, and who the children will see, and when. A schedule will be created that both parents and the children will follow after the divorce. That schedule may include what days children spend with either parent, who picks up the children from school, and what activities each parent is involved in. 

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DuPage County family law attorney divorce mediation

If you are getting a divorce, you might want to consider employing divorce mediation to help both you and your spouse reach a fairer and less stressful dissolution of your marriage.

In addition, many other issues in family law could be resolved through mediation as well, including child custody. Here is some more information about mediation in case you are considering it for you and your family.

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DuPage County family law attorney parenting time

divorce does not just affect you and your spouse. It also has a significant impact on your children. What used to be one home now becomes two. They may have to change schools, make new friends, and will rarely spend time with both parents. Holidays, birthdays, and even soccer games are going to be different. Of course, children can and do adjust. How well they do so is often reliant upon how well their parents get along once the divorce process is complete. This is why all parents should work exceedingly hard at successfully co-parenting during and after their divorce.

#1. Stay Focused on What Is Really Important

It is easy to get caught up in the swirling emotions of divorce. Your anger, bitterness, or sadness may cause you to fight for things that might not otherwise matter. Alternatively, you may give up things that are important, just to get the process over with. Neither will serve you or your child well in divorce. You deserve time with your child, as does your spouse. The little things you are arguing over may not matter in a few years. So, rather than argue over the details, try to keep your focus centered on your child. Know when the fight is worth the effort, and when it is better to just let go.

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DuPage County family law attorney parenting time

There used to be just two options for married couples: Stay together or get divorced. Now there are conscious uncouplers, bird-nesters, and even those who turn their traditional marriage into a “parenting marriage.” This last non-traditional family unit—the parenting marriage—is gaining a lot of traction lately, particularly among those who are at a deadlock in their marriage but still want to see their children every day. Could this model realistically work for your family as an alternative to divorce?

What Is a Parenting Marriage?

In many ways, a parenting marriage is a lot like a traditional marriage. The couple is (usually) still legally married, and they continue to live in the same house. However, their marriage is no longer an intimate relationship. Instead, it is a platonic one. They do not share the same bed, there is little to no physical intimacy, and most have separate finances and accounts. The sole function of their marriage is to raise their children together under the same roof without the stress of trying to mend a relationship that is no longer working.

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DuPage County family law attorney divorce

When it comes to health complications, divorcees have the odds stacked against them. In fact, studies have linked divorce to everything from weight gain and depression to an increased risk of experiencing a heart attack. Granted, an increased risk does not mean you will experience a stroke, nor does it mean you should avoid divorce if it truly feels like the right path for your life. However, it does suggest that divorcees should know how to protect their health and mitigate against the risks.

Examining the Possible Link

Nearly anyone who has endured divorce can tell you it is an emotionally, mentally, and sometimes even physically trying experience. Thankfully, the stress usually diminishes over time, but the damage could already be done by the time things calm down. In fact, experts now believe that stress may be the driving factor behind all links to potential heart conditions. It certainly makes sense when you consider what stress does to the body.

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DuPage County family law attorney parenting time

The divorce process often involves challenging questions regarding how parents will fairly allocate parenting time and decision-making responsibility regarding important issues related to their children’s health and education. Sometimes, these issues must be resolved through trial litigation, while in other cases they can be settled out of court by parents who are committed to working together for the sake of their children. However, even the most cooperative and committed parents have been tested by the COVID-19 pandemic, and divorced parents who are healthcare workers face unique challenges when it comes to co-parenting and acting in the best interests of their children.

Co-Parenting Issues in a Health Crisis

If you or your former spouse works in healthcare, you have likely faced many of the following challenges in your attempts to co-parent effectively in the past year:

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DuPage County family law attorney guardian ad litem

Many of the most important issues that must be resolved during the divorce process are related to the couple’s children, including parenting time, parental responsibilities, and child support. Often, divorcing parents place their children’s best interests as a high priority, and they may even be willing to work together to agree on a parenting plan without the court’s intervention. However, sometimes child-related issues in a divorce can be much more contentious, and the court may enlist the services of a guardian ad litem (GAL) to ensure that all decisions made are in the best interests of the children. If the court has assigned a guardian ad litem in your divorce, it is important for you to know what to expect.

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do in Illinois?

One of a guardian ad litem’s most important responsibilities is to thoroughly investigate the case to which they are assigned and the issues at hand to gain an understanding of what would be in the child’s best interests. As part of this investigation, the GAL will interview the child and both parents, and they may also interview relatives, teachers, and other parties who have a relevant perspective, as well as request additional information regarding the child’s education and medical care and the parents’ criminal history.

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DuPage County family law attorney parenting time

After your Illinois divorce, you will most likely be spending less time with your children than you are used to, even if you have been granted the larger share of parenting time. Parents whose time is limited to weekends and the occasional weeknight or special occasion may find the aftermath of a divorce to be especially hard. With these limitations on time with your children, it is even more important to make the most of the time that you do have.

Tips for Quality Parenting Time

As you work to make sure that your parenting time is meaningful and to protect your relationship with your children, here are some suggestions that can help:

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DuPage County family law attorney prenuptial agreement

Finding a new romantic partner and planning a future together is an important step for many people after the stresses of a divorce, and it has the potential to enrich your life in many ways. However, a remarriage is usually not as simple as a first marriage, and there are important matters that you will need to consider before making the decision to move forward. Your remarriage will not only affect your life, but also the lives of your children and even your ex-spouse.

Important Considerations for a Remarriage

The choice to remarry after divorce is personal, and you and your new partner will certainly have your own considerations that factor into your decision. That said, the following three issues are likely to arise in many remarriages, so it is wise to keep them in mind.

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Wheaton family lawyerLaws throughout the United States, including in Illinois, require both of a child’s legal parents to contribute to child support to provide for basic needs until the child reaches the age of 18. However, many children benefit from the financial support of their parents even after they reach adulthood, especially if they want to pursue a college education. In general, parents are not legally required to provide support under these circumstances, but Illinois law does include a provision through which both parents may be ordered to contribute to their children’s college expenses after a divorce or separation.

When Is a Child Eligible for Support for College Expenses?

Parents are, of course, free to make their own arrangements to contribute to their children’s higher education under any circumstances. However, after a divorce or separation, it may be best for a parent to pursue a legally binding order that ensures that both parents contribute. In these cases, an Illinois court will only consider issuing an order if the following criteria are met:

  • The child must usually be under the age of 23, but support may continue until the age of 25 if there is a valid reason.

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DuPage County divorce attorney spousal maintenance

As you contemplate whether to get a divorce, one of your biggest concerns may be your ability to support yourself financially without your spouse’s income, especially if you are a stay-at-home parent or you are out of work for other reasons. In these cases, you may be able to make the case for spousal support as part of your divorce resolution. It is important to understand when spousal support, otherwise known as maintenance or alimony, is awarded and how long it may last so that you can plan accordingly.

When Is Spousal Maintenance Awarded?

If you and your spouse have a legally valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that provides for the amount and duration of spousal maintenance in the event of a divorce, you can likely expect the court to honor that agreement. However, in any other case, decisions regarding spousal support are settled at the time of your divorce. You will either need to negotiate for maintenance with your spouse or demonstrate to the court that you have a need for it. Some reasons the court may consider include:

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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting time

For many families, the winter holidays are a time for celebration. They can also be a time of heightened emotions, and those feelings are not always positive. Families who have recently gone through a divorce may still be coping with grief, sadness, even anger, and they may understandably find it hard to recapture the joy of past holiday seasons. However, this does not mean that this year’s holidays cannot be enjoyable in a different way. 

Approaching the Holidays as a Divorced Parent

As a parent, there are a few things you can do to help make the holidays less sad or stressful and more enjoyable after your divorce. Here are some suggestions to consider:

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DuPage County divorce attorney

Psychological research shows that when children are exposed to high levels of conflict between their parents, they may suffer from many long-lasting effects, including an increased risk of anxiety and depression. When you are in the midst of a divorce, it can be hard to shield your children from conflict entirely, but the more that you are able to do so, the better the position your children will be in to cope with the divorce and recover from the emotional trauma that it brings.

Protecting Your Kids from the Negative Effects of Conflict

The following suggestions can help you mitigate the effects of conflict on your children both during and after the divorce process:

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Arlington Heights, IL divorce attorney parenting plan

If you are a parent who is planning to divorce in Illinois, you may already be thinking about how you and your spouse will share child-related responsibilities. As part of the divorce process, you will be asked to describe the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time in your “parenting plan” and submit this plan to the court. If the court approves of the plan, the plan becomes a part of the legally enforceable divorce decree. Illinois law lists the issues that must be addressed in a parenting plan, but these are only the minimum requirements. You and your child’s other parent have the option of including additional agreements in the plan as well.

Planning in Advance to Prevent Future Conflict

Most parents have different beliefs, ideas, and strategies when it comes to raising their children. These differences can develop into arguments and legal disputes after divorce. One of the best ways to prevent conflict regarding child custody issues is to create a detailed parenting plan describing each parent’s responsibilities and expectations. The more you agree upon during the creation of the parenting plan, the fewer issues you will need to sort out in the future.

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Wheaton family law attorney divorce

For many people, a divorce is a time of heightened emotions, including sadness over the end of your marriage, anger at your spouse’s behavior, and fear surrounding what will happen next. It can also be a huge source of stress, as you face the prospect of making important decisions that can affect the rest of your life, and possibly going through a lengthy trial or negotiation process. During this difficult time, it is more important than ever that you focus on your mental health while letting an experienced attorney help you navigate the legal proceedings. 

Strategies for Promoting Mental Health

It can be hard to put your mental health first with everything else competing for your attention during the divorce process, but here are some suggestions that might be beneficial:

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DuPage County divorce attorney child support

If you are getting a divorce and have limited financial means of your own, it is important to work toward a divorce resolution that allows you to support yourself and your children. Often, this means ensuring that your ex is required to make regular child support and spousal support payments after the divorce. However, these payments do not take effect until the divorce is finalized, which may put you in a difficult situation during the divorce process, especially if your spouse is unwilling to cooperate. If this applies to you, you may need to petition for temporary maintenance or support.

How to Petition for Temporary Support in Illinois

In the midst of the legal divorce process, you can file a petition with the court for temporary spousal support, temporary child support, or both. However, it is important to be sure that you have good reason to do so. With your petition, you will need to submit a financial affidavit explaining your need for support with fact-based reasoning. You will also need to submit documentary evidence supporting the affidavit, which may include your bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, and evidence of any other income.

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Lombard, IL family law attorney legal separation

The decision to get a divorce is hardly ever easy, and it is understandable that you would want to pursue all other possible avenues before beginning the process of legally ending your marriage. You may even hold out hope for reconciliation if you and your spouse can find a way to work together to resolve your marital issues. If you feel that some time apart from your partner would be beneficial, a legal separation could be a good option, but you may wonder how, or if, reconciliation may be possible after you take this step.

Coming Together After a Legal Separation

A legal separation means that you and your spouse stay legally married but begin living separately. Depending on your financial and family situation, you may need to reach an agreement on spousal support, child support, and parenting time like you would if you were getting a divorce, but the option remains open for you and your spouse to end the separation if you both agree to do so.

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DuPage County divorce attorney child custody

In most cases in which a child has two known, living parents, Illinois courts will determine that it is in the child’s best interest for both parents to share custody. In fact, in 2016, the state of Illinois changed the laws and language surrounding child custody so that the term “custody” is no longer officially used. Instead, these decisions are now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, out of recognition of the benefits of a cooperative arrangement. However, there are still situations in which a parent or another party acting on the child’s behalf can legally challenge the other parent’s rights to parenting time and parental responsibilities.

When Can a Parent Be Denied Parenting Time or Responsibilities?

First and foremost, an Illinois court will seek to establish a parenting agreement that serves the child’s best interests. It may be considered in the child’s best interests to restrict or deny one or both parents’ rights to parenting time and decision-making responsibilities if the parent:

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Lombard, IL divorce attorney parenting time

A divorce can not only change the lives of you and your spouse, it can affect your whole family dynamic. Your children will have to adjust to living in two different households, and the nature of your relationship with them may change, especially if you will not be spending as much time with them as you used to. However, your relationship does not have to deteriorate, especially if you continue to make an effort to foster love, trust, communication, and quality time with your children. Working with your co-parent can also help your children feel more at ease during this major life transition. 

How to Keep a Close Bond With Your Children

As you and your children acclimate to life after your divorce, here are some things to keep in mind that can help you maintain a strong relationship:

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Lombard, IL divorce attorney parenting time

Divorce may be difficult for children of any age, but it can be especially confusing for toddlers who cannot fully understand their parents’ separation and the reasons for the change in their routine. If you decide to get a divorce while your children are still very young, you should be aware of the effects it may have on them and do everything you can to make the transition easier for them and continue providing them with a happy and healthy life.

Effects of Divorce on Young Children

Due to the stresses placed on your toddler both during and after your divorce, you may see some concerning changes in his or her behavior, including:

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