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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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Posted on in Parenting

fighting, parents Arlington Heights family law attorneyAs a divorced parent, you understand how difficult it can be to deal with your ex-spouse at times. No matter how amicable your split may have been—and may even still be for the most part—you are going to have disagreements from time to time. It is simply a part of life. Perfectly rational adults can have different viewpoints on certain issues, especially when it comes to what may or may not be best for children. Along those lines, you have probably been told that it is always a bad idea to fight in front of the kids; but that may not necessarily be the best advice. In fact, fighting the right way can even offer your children some insight into responsible problem-solving.

Of course, nobody is suggesting that a knock-down, drag-out fight between parents is a good thing for a child to see. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with letting your child witness an occasional—and rational—exchange of differing opinions between you and your ex-spouse. It is important, though, to keep a few guidelines in mind to be sure that your child is not adversely affected in the process:

Set Topical Boundaries

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prenuptial agreement, lifestyle clause, Illinois family lawyersAs we have recently discussed in greater detail in other posts on this blog, at-fault divorce is now a thing of the past in Illinois. No matter what you think your spouse may have done, a family court will only care about one thing: whether or not irreconcilable differences have caused the breakdown of your marriage. It has long been the case that marital misconduct cannot be considered by the court in proceedings for spousal maintenance or property division either. The court may, however, recognize a prenuptial agreement between you and your spouse that includes what are commonly known as lifestyle clauses, allowing the behavior of one spouse or the other to still affect divorce proceedings.

Infidelity Clauses

Despite the Illinois law prohibiting divorce on the explicit grounds of adultery, the most common type of lifestyle clause found in many prenuptial agreements provides for a penalty in the event one spouse cheats. Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel reportedly have such a clause in their prenuptial agreement, and many other celebrity couples are thought to as well. If such an agreement is seen by the court as reasonable, whatever financial or property-related penalty upon which you have agreed may be enforced. This, howeer,

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Posted on in Child Custody

parenting time, Illinois law, Arlington Heights family law attorneyFor a number of months, posts on this blog have talked about some of various aspects of Illinois family law that were set to change going into 2016. Some of the bigger changes revolve around the state’s approach to divorce and child custody, with the law being updated to address the evolving needs of today’s families. One seemingly smaller amendment, however, addresses parental visitation and presents parents with a new way of thinking about the idea.

Parental Responsibilities

The changes to the law regarding visitation are part of the larger shift in the philosophy regarding child custody. Divorcing, separating, or unmarried parents will no longer be competing for arrangements like sole or joint custody, or for titles such as custodial parent. Instead, parents are expected to cooperate in developing a plan for sharing parental responsibilities. These include both significant decision-making responsibilities, such as education, medical care, and religious training, as well as everyday life responsibilities, known as caretaking functions.

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Posted on in Divorce

uncontested divorce, divorce, Illinois divorce attorneysDivorce is not always a long, ugly, mess. In Illinois, uncontested divorces are increasingly common. Instead of both sides filing motions and petitions with the court over a period of months and even years, in an uncontested divorce, the two sides agree to everything beforehand.

The Pros of Uncontested Divorces

Uncontested divorces are becoming more popular because of all the benefits they offer over a more traditional approach to divorce. Uncontested divorces are usually:

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high net-worth, wealthy couple, Arlington Heights family law attorneyDivorce is often a complex mix of anger, resentment, and heartbreak. But, when you also have to deal with complicated financial holdings, business, and asset valuation, it can make the situation even more volatile. High net-worth divorces have issues not found in most other family law cases.

Finding, Valuing, and Understanding the Assets

Most high net-worth individuals hold a variety of different asset classes. Many of the assets are not held personally by the couple, but instead are in different holding companies or tied up in various business and investment structures. One of the challenges in a high net-worth divorce is finding all of the assets. It is not unusual for one spouse to try and hide assets.

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child support, right to support, Arlington Heights family law attorneyWhile divorce is certainly a commonly addressed area of family law, issues of child support are even more common. In order for a couple to get divorced, they must have already been married. Child support, on the other hand, is not dependent upon a legal relationship between the parents. Instead, it is based on provisions in the law codifying the moral obligation of a parent to contribute to his or her child’s well-being. Legislating a parent’s love and attention is obviously not possible, but the state does have the authority to enforce financial obligations, which it may do through orders for child support.

Right of the Child, Not the Parent

In most situations involving divorced, separated, or unmarried parents, one parent is designated as having primary residential responsibility for child. This generally means that the parent is responsible for enrolling the child in school, as well as providing for a majority of the child’s basic day-to-day needs. When child support is ordered, it is typically the primary residential parent who receives the payments on behalf of the child.

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Posted on in Divorce

divorce, type of divorce, Arlington Heights family law attorneyWhen you have reached the point in your marriage where you know that it is over, you need to begin thinking about the right way to divorce. Most couples will have several options, depending upon their ability to communicate and cooperate with one another. The type of divorce you choose may also be affected by the complexity of your situation, including concerns for children, diverse business interests, or if you and your spouse enjoy a high net-worth. No matter which route you take, the end goal should be same: an equitable divorce judgment that allows each party to experience a positive post-divorce reality.

1. Do-It-Yourself Divorce

There is almost never a good reason to try to handle your divorce on your own, despite being technically possible. Many Internet resources offer advice on how to save money by representing yourself in the process of a simple divorce, but even the simplest of cases often have unexpected obstacles. What you think you are saving in the moment may end up costing you significantly, since, without an attorney, there is nobody to keep you from making an expensive mistake.

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Posted on in Divorce

after a divorce, divorce, Illinois divorce attorneysAfter a divorce is finalized you can feel worn out. Even when a divorce was amicable, the emotions involved can take a toll. But, after you receive the final paperwork from the court, you still have a few things to set in order. Failure to make a few changes to your estate planning documents, taxes, and retirement accounts now could have disastrous consequences later.

Estate Planning

Often, spouses list each other as the beneficiary on a variety of documents without even thinking about it. After you are divorced, you need to go and make sure all those beneficiary designations are changed from your now ex-spouse to someone else.

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kiss of death, divorce, Illinois divorce attorneyDo you and your spouse argue over relatively trivial issues? If you have been together for longer than a month, the answer is probably yes. Married couples, of course, argue from time to time, and often over things that are probably not that important. Disagreement and arguments are not, however, necessarily signs that your marriage is in trouble, so long as you and your spouse continue to love and respect one another. Conversely, if the love and respect is being eroded and replaced with contempt, your relationship may be headed for divorce.

Psychologists John Gottman of the University of Washington and Robert Levenson of the University of California – Berkeley, collaborated on a 14-year behavioral study which used emotional reactions to predict divorce with an accuracy rate of 93 percent. The researchers identified the negative mix of behaviors, including anger, contempt, criticism, stonewalling, and defensiveness to be a harbinger of impending disaster for the marriage. In particular, Gottman noted, "Contempt is the kiss of death."

A subsequent study concurred with Gottman and Levenson’s conclusions. The second research team examined more than 370 couples over a 16 year period. As in the previous project, the team found that, "indeed, destructive conflict behaviors (e.g., criticism, yelling) predicted increased divorce."

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