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Lombard family law attorneyAmerica is a nation built on second chances. Consider, for a moment, the number of high-profile incidents or embarrassments involving celebrities or public figures, and how many have gone on to even greater success and fame afterward. For many, love and marriage is not terribly different. Despite a failed first marriage, more couples than ever are willing to walk down the aisle again in the hopes of finding the permanent happiness that has, so far, eluded them. Remarriage, however, can be extremely challenging, as many couples beginning second or third marriages are bringing with them children from previous relationships. Finding the right balance between parent and friend is often difficult for new stepparents, but there are some things you should keep in mind to make the transition a little more comfortable for everyone involved.

Be Prepared

As you fell in love with your new spouse, you knew that he or she already had children. Thus, the process of becoming a healthy blended family probably began long before thoughts of marriage ever crossed your mind. During the dating process, it can be very easy to try to ignore your partner’s children and the potential impact on your relationship, but doing so is not very conducive to a future together. It is important, however, to start slow and not to impose yourself on an existing family dynamic in such a way that will be overly upsetting. Understand that you will probably feel like something of an outsider for a little while, because, in reality, that is just what you are. Over time, though, you will probably feel more included and more a part of the family than you ever thought possible.

Be Respectful

Whether you have children of your own or not, you need to keep in mind that every stepparent’s relationship with their stepchildren is different, and may even vary from child to child. For example, your spouse’s older child may have taken to you immediately, becoming affectionate and loving without much effort, while a younger child may be more stand-offish and need additional time to adjust. Neither reaction is necessarily right or wrong, but as long as it is honest, you should be understanding and respectful. If a child wants space, allow him or her to have it; if he or she wants love and support from you, offer it. A long-term future together can only be realistic if everyone remains open and truthful about their comfort and feelings.

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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 family law attorneyWhile there are certain exceptions, most children fare best after divorce when they have a lasting and healthy relationship with both of their parents. Unfortunately, there are situations in which one parent tries to interfere with the bond that the child has with the other parent. This is known as parental alienation, and it can have a serious impact on the mental and emotional well-being of a child. Learn how to spot its symptoms, and what to do if you suspect that it is happening to you and your child.

Symptoms of Parental Alienation

During and after a divorce, emotions are high and couples are often struggling to find a new way to communicate and get along. This is just a part of the process, and there are bound to be a few bumps along the way. After all, it can take time to perfect the drop-off, pick-up, and parenting time schedules. This is different than parental alienation, which is an intentional interference with another parent’s relationship with their child. Symptoms that indicate this insidious and damaging behavior may include:

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relocation, Lombard family law attorneyFollowing a divorce, you may want nothing more than to move to new city or state and start fresh. Doing so may require starting a different job or pursuing an education in your new town, as you look to move forward with your post-divorce life. For a parent with shared parenting responsibilities, however, the decision to relocate is much tougher, even if the desire to move is the same. If you want to move and seek new beginnings with your child, there are a number of things that you will need to consider.

The Other Parent’s Consent

When you have been allocated half or more of the parental responsibilities for your child, one of your duties, according to the law, is to help your child foster a relationship with his or her other parent. This presumes, of course, that a relationship between the child and the other parent is healthy and in your child’s best interest. With that in mind, before relocating to a new city or state with your child, you will need to seek the other parent’s consent, and have your parenting time agreement updated to reflect the new reality.

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guardian ad litem, Lombard family law attorneyWhile many divorcing parents are able to reach a reasonable agreement regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time, many others simply are not. In some cases, the parents are unable to put aside their personal differences and focus on the needs of the child. In others, each parent may have the absolute best intentions but are having difficulty compromising with one another. When proceedings for the allocation of parental responsibilities or other child-related concerns encounter such obstacles, the court may appoint a specially-trained lawyer to serve as guardian ad litem (GAL) for the duration of the case.

The GAL’s Role

A guardian ad litem acts essentially as an extension of the court. He or she is granted investigative powers to study the circumstances of the family and the child in question. The GAL may interview the child, each parent, siblings, and other relevant parties, as well as review court transcripts, financial documents, and any other evidence that may be helpful. Upon completing the investigation, the GAL prepares a recommendation for the court, based on what he or she believes would be the ideal situation for the child.

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