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DuPage County divorce attorneyDivorce is no doubt one of the most stressful things a person can experience in their lifetime. Even for adults, coping with the stress of a divorce can be difficult, but for a child, it can be nightmarish. Children are not nearly as developed as adults are in any sense, whether that be emotionally, physically, or mentally. As such, children tend to have a much more difficult time coping and dealing with the impact of the divorce than their parents, especially if the divorce is particularly contentious. For many parents, the well-being of their children is the most important thing and at the top of their list of concerns, and if they are struggling to cope with your divorce, it may be beneficial for them to talk to a family therapist.

Signs That Your Children Are Struggling to Cope

Here are a few signs that may indicate that your children need help:

  • Frequent Outbursts or Displays of Aggression: Children are still learning important skills, like emotional control and regulation. Some children may express their strong emotions by lashing out in anger, throwing tantrums, being disobedient, or otherwise acting completely out of character.

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DuPage County high-conflict divorce attorneyGetting a divorce is rarely easy, but for some couples, the divorce process can be especially troublesome. It is normal for a divorcing couple to have disagreements, but when it seems as if the conflict will never cease, you can begin to feel worn down and burnt out. This can end up affecting not only your divorce case, but your physical and mental health, too. In many cases, a high-conflict divorce is the product of a high-conflict spouse. Often, it is possible to predict whether or not your spouse is likely to be combative or difficult to work with during your divorce process, allowing you to prepare yourself emotionally, mentally, and practically. 

Managing the Divorce Process With a Difficult Spouse

If you are going through a high-conflict divorce, here are a few ways to help you survive:

  • Limit the contact you have with your spouse. The easiest way to limit the stress of a high-conflict divorce is to limit the amount of communication you have with your spouse. A high-conflict spouse may thrive off of the arguments and the rise they can get out of you, so limiting the amount of time you spend talking with one another limits the amount of time they have to escalate the situation. Try to cease face-to-face communication and keep emails, text messages and phone calls short and simple.

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Naperville IL paternity attorneyOver the years, there have been many significant advancements in law and society when it comes to recognizing different family situations. For example, same-sex marriage was not only frowned upon but was illegal in many parts of the country for hundreds of years until a 2015 Supreme Court ruling. Unfortunately, there are also many ways that the laws still reflect traditional family structures. For example, Illinois generally presumes the father of any child born to a married mother to be the mother’s husband, though there are many situations in which this may not actually be the case. If a person wants to contest the paternity of a child, it is possible but it can be difficult, which is why hiring a paternity lawyer is recommended.

How Do I Contest Paternity If I Am Married?

When a child’s mother is married when the child is born or within 300 days before the child was born, the person the mother is or was married to is legally presumed to be the father of the child. Establishing paternity is a crucial step in solidifying a father’s rights to his child, but it also means that a legal father will be held to certain parental responsibilities, like child support, in the event of a divorce. If a man learns or suspects that he is not the biological father of his wife’s child and wishes to contest his paternity, he must take swift legal action, or the judge could choose to deny his petition.

How Can Paternity Be Disproven?

Once the father files the petition to contest paternity, the court will almost certainly order genetic testing to be completed. Genetic testing is an extremely accurate way of being able to tell whether or not a child is biologically related to an adult and usually only requires a simple cheek swab. Once the orders are given for genetic testing to be completed, the presumed father, mother, and child must all give samples so the DNA can be compared. If the results indicate that the man is not the child’s biological father, the legal parent-child relationship may be ruled to be nonexistent.

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Naperville, IL parenting time lawyerGetting a divorce brings about many changes to your everyday life, which can be especially true if you are a parent. One of the biggest and most difficult changes to cope with for many Illinois divorcees is how much less time they get to spend with their children. In Illinois, the default is to allow both parents to have unrestricted parenting time with the child, unless there is strong evidence that unrestricted parenting time would be harmful to the child’s physical or emotional and mental well-being. If restrictions are required, a common example is requiring the parenting time to be supervised.

What Does Supervised Parenting Time Look Like?

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), supervision during parenting time simply means that there is a third party present during the parenting time of the parent in question. Typically there are two types of “supervisors” or third parties that are often used in supervised parenting time cases:

  • A court-approved professional, such as a therapist, psychologist, social worker, counselor or other professional

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DuPage County family law attorneysDivorcing with children means you must pay attention to and come to an agreement on a slew of additional issues other than your usual divorce topics. Making decisions and coming to a consensus on things such as parenting time agreements and child support payments with your spouse can seem like you are running a marathon, especially if you and your spouse are not on the friendliest of terms. In some cases, the child can even become stuck in the middle of the parental conflict and become a victim of parental alienation. This type of parenting behavior can be harmful to your child’s wellbeing, which is why you should take action at the first sign of alienation.

What is Parental Alienation?

In the simplest words, parental alienation occurs when one parent attempts to damage the relationship between the other parent and their child. The alienating parent will display unjustified negativity toward the alienated parent, with the intent that the child’s emotions will turn against that parent. Not only is parental alienation extremely stressful and emotionally painful for the alienated parent, it causes emotional distress for the child and is actually considered by most mental health professionals to be emotional abuse.

Signs and Symptoms of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation can have a devastating effect on children, especially if the emotional abuse goes on for too long. The best thing to do if you suspect your spouse is trying to turn your child against you is to look for the signs of parental alienation to prevent it from happening or stop it while it is in its early stages. Signs that parental alienation might be taking place include:

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DuPage County family law attorneysAt any given time, there are more than 437,000 U.S. children living in the foster care system, with 125,000 of those children eligible for adoption. Adopting a child is a happy and joyous time for everyone in the family, but it can also be a long and complicated process. This is why children in the foster care system wait on average, four years to be adopted.

If you are thinking of adopting a child in Illinois, you should be aware of the steps in the adoption process and what exactly adopting a child entails. There are many potential legal complications that could arise from an adoption, which is why enlisting the help of a skilled Illinois adoption lawyer is highly recommended.

Filing the Petition for Adoption

As long as you are eligible to adopt a child, you may file a petition to adopt after the child becomes available for adoption. In Illinois, adults over the age of 21 can adopt a child, whether they are single or married, regardless of their sexual orientation. According to the Illinois Adoption Act, the petition should be filed within 30 days of the child becoming available for adoption and should state:

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DuPage County family law attorneysEven if you have the best of intentions going into your divorce, you can still end up going through a contested divorce if your spouse decides he or she will be combative. Many times, you will know when your spouse is going to be difficult about certain issues in a divorce. In some cases, your finances can be the point of contention in your divorce and the source of much of the tension and disagreement. Some people end up needing to use subpoenas during their divorce cases and some do not; the majority of that depends on how cooperative your spouse is when it comes to the discovery process and dividing your assets.

The Discovery Process and the Role of Subpoenas

The discovery process is the formal exchange of financial information between the two spouses during a divorce. In some cases, this process does not even have to happen because both spouses are able to be fair and reasonable when it comes to asset division. However, in most cases, especially complex divorce cases, the discovery process is essential for uncovering all relevant financial information and documents. This is also typically when you or your attorney would request and draft any subpoenas for documents that you may need. You are permitted to subpoena people as well, but it is rare that you need to subpoena a witness in a divorce case.

Situations in Which a Subpoena Can Be Helpful

Not everyone is going to need to request and use subpoenas during their divorce. If your spouse is being cooperative and is complying with your requests for certain documentation or proof of other financial information, you usually do not need to go through the trouble of getting a subpoena. In some situations, however, subpoenas can be useful to ensure your interests are being protected. You may want to consider using subpoenas if:

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DuPage County family law attorneysThere are many issues that a couple is bound to disagree on during a divorce. Some of the most common conflict-causing issues include child-related concerns such as allocating parenting time and decision-making responsibilities, whether or not you receive spousal maintenance, and what to do with the family home, among others. The most notorious issue that may cause conflict, however, is your finances. Just as finances tend to be a common cause of arguments and conflict in marriage, your finances can also be an area of concern in your divorce. A temporary financial restraining order can be a useful tool during your divorce and can actually protect your assets from being mishandled or wasted by your spouse

Understanding Temporary Financial Restraining Orders

When you think of a restraining order, you probably think of a document that prevents one person from coming within a certain distance of another person or committing an act of violence against them. Though the subject of the two types of restraining orders are different, they both operate under the same principle of protection. With a financial restraining order, the goal is to protect your marital assets from being misused, destroyed, spent, transferred, or otherwise handled inappropriately by your spouse during your divorce. 

Do You Need a Temporary Financial Restraining Order?

Even in divorce cases that are technically considered “uncontested divorces”, there is going to be some level of conflict about something as you go through the process. Not all high-asset divorces are also going to be high conflict, but having more financial issues to deal with can lead to more disagreements.

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Naperville divorce attorney property division

When you have come to the decision that you and your spouse are going to get a divorce, you will likely experience a flood of different emotions, ranging from relief, sadness, depression, anger, and rage. While it may seem strange to experience such complex emotions, divorce is a complicated event that encompasses every area of your life. Once you reach the property division stage of your divorce, you and your spouse will be required to divide your marital property in an equitable manner, according to Illinois law. Your marital property includes anything that either you or your spouse took possession of during your marriage, including items like vehicles, the family home, and other real estate. Determining what to do with these assets -- especially the family home -- typically begins with an appraisal.

What Are the Benefits of a Home Appraisal?

For many couples, the family home is the biggest investment and the most expensive asset they own. Handling these assets carefully is crucial for you to get your fair share of the marital estate. Getting your home appraised before you proceed with the asset distribution process can provide you with an estimate as to how much your home is actually worth. In many cases, especially when there are children involved, there are emotional attachments to the home. This sometimes leads to one spouse wanting to keep the home. In this case, an appraisal can still be useful as you will have an accurate market value of the home so you know how much money you need to “buy out” your spouse’s portion of the home.

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DuPage County divorce attorney debt division

For many people, going to college to get an education is an important step that they must take to advance themselves in their careers. However, college education does not come with small price tags. According to Forbes, there are approximately 45 million people in the United States with student loan debt, the majority of which owe between $20,000 and $40,000. Student loan debt may be one of the largest debts that either you or your spouse have. If you decide to get a divorce in Illinois, debt can be an important factor when it comes to asset and debt division since you are required to allocate all of your property and liabilities. An experienced Illinois divorce attorney can assist you with this process.

Are Student Loans Marital or Nonmarital Property?

Before you can even begin to look at dividing up student loan debt, you must first look to see if the debt is technically marital or nonmarital property. If the student loans were incurred before the marriage took place, then they would be considered non-marital property and would likely remain the responsibility of the person who incurred them. If the student loans were obtained after the marriage took place, they are considered marital property and will be subject to division.

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DuPage County divorce coachFiling for divorce is likely the most complicated emotional and financial event that will take place in your life. Getting a divorce can touch every aspect of your life, including where you live, where your children go to school, your standard of living and even when you get to spend time with your kids. All of this change requires you to make quite a few decisions in a relatively short amount of time, which can be extremely stressful. People going through a divorce who are experiencing this kind of emotional distress often find that they benefit from the help of a divorce coach.   

What is a Divorce Coach?

Though getting a divorce is a legal and financial process, it also greatly impacts your emotional health, which often gets tangled up in the middle of the legal process. A divorce coach is an individual who typically comes from a legal or conflict resolution background and also has professional experience with mental health. Their main goal is to support, motivate, and guide you through your divorce by helping you make the best decisions possible for your future. It may sound like a divorce coach is similar to a therapist, but this is not the case. A therapist focuses on the past, while a divorce coach focuses on your future goals and how to achieve them.

Benefits of Hiring a Divorce Coach

The emotional side of divorce can be extremely overwhelming for some spouses, preventing them from thinking clearly or making rational decisions. However, to come out of your divorce with a viable divorce agreement, it is important that you are able to make rational decisions without your emotions clouding your judgment. Helping you balance your emotions and make practical, realistic decisions is one of the primary advantages of working with a divorce coach. Other benefits of hiring a divorce coach include:

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Wheaton divorce attorney child custody

People get divorced for every kind of reason under the sun, from basic incompatibility to simply wanting different things in life. Many times, these reasons for a divorce stem from a basic inability of the couple to effectively communicate and cooperate with one another. Just as this spelled trouble during the marriage, this can also spell trouble during the divorce. Divorcing with children can be especially complicated as child-related issues tend to be very emotionally fueled, but they must be settled before the divorce can be finalized. Illinois courts urge parents to come to an agreement about parenting time and decision-making responsibilities on their own or with the help of a mediator. However, if that is unsuccessful or would be detrimental to the well-being of the family, the case must be brought before a judge.

Understanding Child Custody Evaluations

If you and your spouse appear before a judge without a consensus as to what your parenting plan agreement is, the judge will most likely order a custody evaluation to take place before any further decisions are made. If the court orders a custody evaluation to take place, the evaluator is then hired, which is typically a mental health professional, such as a psychologist. The evaluator’s job is to study and record the interactions between the child and each of his or her parents, siblings, and any other relevant family or household members.

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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting plan

Ending a relationship with a spouse who has a tendency for conflict can feel like you are finally able to relax for the first time in a long time. If you have children, however, your time with your ex-spouse is far from over. Some couples are able to remain calm and civil after the divorce and successfully co-parent their children, while other couples struggle to keep discussions from escalating to full-blown arguments. Studies have shown that the single factor that affects children the most by causing distress is the conflict between parents. If you and your ex do not seem to see eye-to-eye on issues, a parallel parenting plan may be a more suitable solution for your family.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

In cases involving co-parents who exhibit high-conflict qualities, a traditional co-parenting agreement may not be in everyone’s best interest. Parallel parenting is an alternative form of parenting and allows high-conflict spouses to disengage from one another and have little direct contact. Often, this means the contact is only through written means, such as text or email, with no face-to-face or phone conversations. This allows there to be as little conflict as possible while still allowing both parents to be active in their child’s life.

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Naperville divorce attorneyIf you have not previously been divorced, then you understandably do not know what the divorce process actually entails. Everything that you know about the divorce process probably comes from what you have heard from your friends, family members, coworkers, and other people who have talked about their experience with divorce. While it can be helpful to have support from loved ones, you should speak to an Illinois divorce lawyer for the truth about any topics that may be of concern to you. Here are a few common myths that still exist about divore and the truths behind those myths:

You Must State a Reason For Your Divorce

Just a couple of years ago, the state of Illinois changed its divorce laws immensely. One of those changes was removing the option of choosing fault or naming a reason for the divorce. Now, the only legal reason stated for getting a divorce is irreconcilable differences which caused an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. 

Property is Always Divided 50/50

This is one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about divorce. The most logical thing would be for each spouse to receive half of the couple’s assets and debts, but that is not how it always works out. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states that property is always divided in an equitable manner in Illinois. This means that a variety of factors are looked at when dividing property and one spouse may end up walking away with more assets or debts than the other.

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DuPage County divorce lawyerFor many divorcing couples, children are a part of the picture and must be properly handled before the divorce can be finalized. Getting a divorce when you have any children at all increases the complexity and difficulty of the legal process, but doing so when your children are in their teenage years can provide for rather unique and interesting issues. If your children are still minors, you and your spouse must have a parenting plan approved and in place before you can have a judge finalize your divorce agreement. Creating a parenting plan can be straightforward in some situations, but when you are creating a parenting plan for teenagers, there are some things you should keep in mind.

Flexibility is Important

When you have a child who is a teenager, they are just beginning to blossom into young adults. Their lives are no longer revolving around you and the family. They have other things going on in their lives, such as school, friends, extracurricular activities, sports, jobs and significant others. A strict parenting plan will only cause stress for everyone and can put a strain on the relationship between you and your teen. Having a flexible parenting plan is important for successfully co-parenting a teenager.

Be Prepared For Them to Spend a Lot of Time With Friends

As your child grows, they will naturally want to spend more time with their friends and will gravitate away from the family setting. This is normal and actually helps prepare them for a few years down the line when they will be surrounded by peers and no longer living with parents. You should try not to place too much pressure on your teen for wanting to spend time with his or her friends in the midst of your divorce.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerFor many Americans, March was the last month that had any sort of normalcy to it. As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, it hit the United States especially hard, with the number of confirmed cases topping five million in recent days. The pandemic is responsible for closing thousands of non-essential businesses and forcing many others to conduct business remotely or work from home. This was true even for government operations, such as business conducted at the DuPage County courthouse. For those who are in the middle of the divorce process or are thinking about beginning the process of getting a divorce, the biggest question running through your mind is likely, “Is a divorce even possible at this time?”

Changes to Court Procedures

Thankfully, the answer to that question is yes, it is still possible to get a divorce during the pandemic, though it may be a little different from what you thought your divorce would be like. Beginning on June 8, the DuPage County courthouse reopened for normal business hours, but with changed procedures to help implement social distancing guidelines and other policies to protect court staff, judges, attorneys, and visitors. These guidelines include:

  • Reducing the number of in-person court calls conducted on a given day and requiring some court calls to be conducted through remote means to reduce the number of people present inside of the courthouse;

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Naperville child support lawyerWhen parents get divorced, there are many things that suddenly become a topic of concern for their children. Once you determine how you will split parenting time, you can then begin to calculate how much child support will be paid by whoever has the least amount of parenting time. In the state of Illinois, child support calculations take into account both parents’ incomes, the number of children, and the amount of parenting time that is allocated to each parent. Child support may also include a child’s medical expenses, which either or both parents can be responsible for. Child support calculations can be complicated and disputed, but an Illinois divorce lawyer can help you ensure your parenting plan addresses your child’s medical needs and his or her medical expenses.

Who Maintains the Child’s Health Insurance Coverage?

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), a portion of the basic child support payment made each month to the custodial parent is intended to be used for basic medical expenses, such as cough medication if the child had a cold. However, the court does have the authority to order either or both parents to add the child to an existing policy held by either of the parents or purchase health insurance coverage for the child.

How Are Other Medical Expenses Managed?

It is rare that all of a person’s medical expenses will be completely covered by insurance. Typically, insurance companies pay for a portion of your healthcare services while you are responsible for the remainder of the cost. These costs can add up quickly, which is why it is important to denote how you will allocate those costs for your child in your parenting plan. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, the court has the discretion to order either or both of you to pay for medical expenses beyond insurance coverage, dental care, orthodontic care, and vision care.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerEvery divorce case will have its areas that cause disputes. For some couples, child-related issues will be the epicenter of most of the divorce conflict. For others, typically spouses who do not have children, the asset division process can be this source of contention. The asset division process can be long and confusing, especially since much of the process involves delving into your finances.

Unfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst in some people, prompting them to do things that they normally would not do or things that they know they should not do. In a high-asset divorce, it is not uncommon for a spouse to attempt to hide assets or otherwise keep his or her spouse from receiving a portion of the marital estate. This is where help from a forensic accountant can be beneficial.

Illinois Asset Division and Discovery

When it comes to the rules governing asset division, each state is different. The state of Illinois uses what is called an equitable distribution model. This, however, is not to be confused with equal distribution. Equitable distribution means that each spouse will receive a portion of the marital estate, that is deemed fair when all relevant circumstances are considered. Illinois courts urge couples to agree upon asset division themselves, but a court will divide assets if need be. If the court divides a couple’s marital assets, there is a chance that one spouse will receive a larger portion of the marital estate than the other spouse.

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Naperville divorce lawyerSocial media has changed the way humans communicate and interact with one another. Although it has been around for decades, every day we learn more and more about the effect that social media can have on our lives, especially as it pertains to relationships. Many studies have pointed toward social media as a possible factor for unhappiness in marriages and other relationships and even a possible trigger for some divorces. What some people may not know is that just as social media may play a role in your marriage, it can also have an effect on your divorce. However, whether the digital platforms are helpful or destructive is up to you.

Social Media and Your Divorce

In many divorce cases, social media can impact the proceedings. The most common way social media is used in divorce cases is to provide evidence toward an assertion that you or your attorney may have regarding your spouse. A social media post, photo, video, or other content could be the proof that you need to show that your spouse is not being entirely truthful with the court.

For example, let us say you request spousal support because you were a stay-at-home parent for most of the marriage. You know that you cannot live on spousal support forever, but you can only find part-time employment while you go back to school and finish your degree. Your spouse claims that he or she does not make enough money to pay for his or her own living expenses, along with spousal support and child support and that doing so would place a financial burden on him or her. However, you were scrolling through Instagram one day and saw your spouse had multiple posts about his or her recent beach trip to Mexico—a trip you knew nothing about.

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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting plan

When parents get divorced, they cannot just go their separate ways and say goodbye — they will forever be connected by their children and will have to continue communicating with one another until their children reach the age of 18. Co-parenting with one another in the same city can be difficult enough. When one parent moves away, it can pose an entirely new set of challenges related to parenting. Whether you need to create an original parenting plan to facilitate the distance between you and your co-parent or you need to update your existing parenting plan, here are some tips that can help:

  • Coordinate with your co-parent as much as possible. It has been said before, but when it comes to long-distance co-parenting, communication really is key. Ideally, you should have your visitation schedule pre-planned and ready for reference. At a minimum, you should coordinate with your former spouse and determine which holidays and school vacations your child will be spending with each of you.

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