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DuPage County divorce attorneysIt can be difficult to know when to call it quits on your marriage, especially when you have put a great deal of time and energy into saving it. Shared children can further complicate matters. Often, parties look for a tell-tale sign, an unmistakable moment that forces them to accept the truth that divorce is inevitable. Unfortunately, such scenarios are rare. 

Instead, parties may spend weeks, months, and even years pondering their next steps - often denying themselves happiness during this confusing phase of their lives. Thankfully, you do not have to walk this path. Look at your current situation and discern whether these seven signs are present to determine if your marriage may already be on the path to divorce. 

You No Longer Argue 

While not all arguments are productive, couples need to resolve their disagreements and find common ground. Unfortunately, when parties cannot work things out, they may stop caring about the outcome. Arguments and disagreements may no longer be an issue, but there is distance and detachment. If your marriage has reached this point and you feel like you are all out of fight, you may only have two choices left: stay in a loveless marriage or call it quits. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysDivorce can feel like the end, but in truth, it can be a new beginning. Maintain an optimistic outlook, focus on yourself, and you can thrive (not just survive) the grueling process. The following six tips, and the help of a competent divorce lawyer, can give you a running start. 

Let Go of the Guilt, Anger, and What-Ifs 

Guilt, regret, anger, and doubt can creep in shortly after you start the divorce process. You might wonder if things could have gone differently if only you or your spouse had made different choices. Unfortunately, actions cannot be undone and words cannot be unsaid. No one can go back, so rather than torment yourself over the past, work to let it all go and focus on your future.  

Focus on Your Strength and Magnificence 

In a relationship, people often tie their identity up in the other person. When the marriage fails, they may struggle to find their own selves again. Now is the time to focus on yourself. Find your strengths and marvel in them. See and celebrate your own magnificence - the things that make you unique. Learn to love who you are as an individual. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysFor some divorcing couples, the process is swift. Each moves into their own place and on with their own lives. For others, it is a slow, almost imperceptible change that gradually leads to a new and single life for each party. Such is the case with in-house separation. If this is the solution you are considering for your marriage, these tips can help you make it work. 

Step One: Announce Your Grievances and Establish a Truce

Whereas other separating parties may be able to work out their grievances over time, in separate houses, those who choose to have an in-house separation need to lay their issues out on the table so they can start to move forward. Otherwise, you and your spouse will simply continue to argue and repeat the same cycles. 

Once you have announced your grievances, it is time to establish a truce. Commit to not working on your marital issues and finding a new path forward for your own life instead. Approaching matters in this way can also work for those who hope to repair their marriage since most issues that lead to separation require you to find new and stable ground.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersDivorce can financially wipe you out if you are not careful. Worse yet, the effect can be long-lasting. Thankfully, by knowing the most common pitfalls (and having a plan for avoiding them), you can reduce your risk of financial devastation. Learn more in the following sections, including how an attorney can assist you with the process. 

Not Adequately Preparing for the Divorce Process

From saving money prior to the divorce to ensuring you have all the documentation you need for the process, divorce requires you to go through a great deal of preparation. Failure to follow through on any one aspect of your case can have dire consequences. Start smart by hiring a lawyer before you actually file. They can help you adequately plan for the future and prepare for every aspect of your case, increasing your chance of a favorable outcome. 

Letting Your Emotions Run the Show 

Divorce can unearth a lot of feelings - anger, guilt, resentment, sadness, and feelings of failure. While all of these emotions are completely normal, allowing them to run the show will only make things more difficult - for you and your spouse. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysDespite common misconceptions, divorce does not have to be a contentious matter. In fact, it is entirely possible to effectively and amicably communicate with your spouse during your separation. Check out these tips, and discover how our seasoned divorce lawyers can assist you with the process, regardless of which divorce path you choose. 

1. Establish Boundaries and a Preferred Method of Communication

When it comes to communicating with your ex, you need boundaries and a plan. Set limits on topics (i.e. do not discuss why your marriage ended or your personal lives; focus instead on discussing the legal details of your separation and any child-related matters). Also, choose a method of communication that will allow you disengage, if necessary. Text, email, and phone calls are some of the most commonly used (and potentially the most effective). Avoid in-person conversations, if necessary. 

2. Focus on the Issues at Hand 

The need for avoiding unnecessary topics cannot be overstated; do not discuss matters related to your spouse’s personal life, the reasons for your divorce, or any other topic that is not pertinent to your divorce. To do so could jeopardize your goals of having an amicable, low-stress divorce. 

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Wheaton family law attorneysAlthough divorce can be difficult for all involved parties, children tend to suffer the most. Much of this is due to their position in the situation. They do not have any control or choice; they must simply deal with the fact that their family has fractured and try to adjust. Learn how you can help them through the process by reviewing these three things that your child wants you to know. 

They Need to Express Their Emotions in a Healthy Way 

Parents are often afraid to talk too much about their divorce. Some even go so far as to avoid the subject entirely, perhaps out of fear that their child may not be able to handle the difficult situation. Unfortunately, ignoring the problem does not help the child. If anything, it could cause them to bury their feelings. 

A lot of children also blame themselves for the divorce. As a result, the child may be at risk for depression, anxiety, behavioral problems, and other maladjustment issues. Thankfully, by giving your child a safe space to express and talk about their emotions, you can reduce their risk of such problems. 

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Wheaton family law lawyersWhen couples struggle with issues in their marriage, divorce may seem like the most appropriate choice. However, there is another viable, less permanent option available. Legal separation allows parties to collect child support or alimony while living apart. Other legal actions, such as the filing of a parenting plan, can also be implemented into a legal separation. 

Examining the Potential Benefits of Legal Separation 

Not every couple is ready to call it quits when they have problems, yet many cannot continue living together under the current circumstances. Legal separation allows them to remain married while living apart. If they work things out, they can come back together and dissolve the separation. In contrast, if the parties are unable to overcome their problems, they can move forward with a divorce. 

Legal separation also allows the parties certain liberties, such as the ability to file a parenting plan to ensure their time and rights to the child are preserved during the separation. Parties may also seek a division of assets, child support, and/or alimony. One of the big benefits to this is that, if the parties do ultimately divorce, most of the details will be ironed out. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersDivorce can be painful and confusing for any child, but most of them do eventually adjust. In contrast, children with special needs sometimes struggle to comprehend the reason why their family is fracturing. Worse yet, all the changes in their lives may cause them to regress or suffer from mental, emotional, or behavioral problems. Thankfully, parents can help ease the transition for their special needs children by carefully protecting their interests. 

Start with Communication 

When divorcing with a special needs child, communication is critical - and not just with your child. You also need to communicate with your spouse in a healthy, non-combative way. It is also important for you to effectively communicate with your attorney so that they can help you in drafting a parenting plan to suit your child’s specific needs. 

Implement Change Slowly (and Change as Little as Possible) 

Change can be difficult for children with special needs, and depending on the situation, it can lead to regression and other issues. Slow and gradual change can reduce the risk. It may also be possible to eliminate some changes. For example, parents might want to consider bird nesting - or, at the very least, keeping the child in the same home - until they have adjusted to the first set of major changes in their lives. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyersBeing served with divorce papers can come as a shock, even when things are bad and you are expecting it. You may also find yourself at a loss on how to handle the situation at hand. Learn how to answer your divorce petition in the following sections, and discover what our seasoned divorce lawyers can do to help you with the next steps of the divorce process. 

Your Response Must Be Submitted Within the Allotted Timeframe 

Divorce petitions must be answered within the allotted timeframe to avoid default; since a default means that your spouse gets what they are asking for in the divorce, you will want to avoid this at all costs. As soon as you receive your petition, seek seasoned legal help. 

You Need to Dispute Any Points That You Do Not Agree With

Few divorcing spouses agree on every point; the same will likely be true for you and your spouse. Matters of dispute must be addressed in your response to the petition. Otherwise, your spouse gets what they are asking for in the divorce. Disputing points that you do not agree with allow you to protect your rights and your interests in the divorce, but since divorce papers are often filled with legal jargon, it is possible for you to miss critical issues. Seek legal help and reduce the risk of this happening in your Illinois divorce. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysDivorce can be a financially devastating process, especially if you are not adequately prepared. Thankfully, there are ways to protect your financial interests, even in the messiest divorce. Learn more by checking out these five financial tips for surviving your Illinois divorce. 

1. Start Saving and Financially Preparing Before You File

One of the biggest mistakes that parties can make in their divorce is failing to financially prepare for it. Most consider the cost of the proceedings, and many recognize that they will have to divide their assets. However, few recognize just how long it can take to financially recover from their divorce. Some may even be obligated to pay child support or spousal support; not preparing for this ahead of time can have serious, long-lasting consequences for the payor. 

2. Eliminate as Much Debt as Possible 

Assets are not the only thing that gets divided in divorce; parties must also divide their debt. Those with limited incomes or who assume the bulk of the debt may find it difficult to maintain their lifestyle. Furthermore, if your spouse fails to cover a joint debt, you may be held responsible for the balance - perhaps to the tune of wage garnishments. Avoid such issues entirely by eliminating as much debt as possible before you file. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersFor the past three decades, divorce rates have been on the decline for nearly every group of Americans. However, senior citizens, or those over the age of 65, are now twice as likely to divorce today than they were 30 years ago. The reasons for this phenomenon are varied, but the potential consequences can be dire. Thankfully, you can still protect yourself in a later-life divorce (dubbed the grey divorce). Learn more in the following sections. 

Later Life Divorce Can Increase Your Risk of Financial Issues in Retirement

When couples save for their retirement, they are planning on having one set of bills and living expenses. Divorce requires the parties to divide whatever assets they may have; this includes any retirement accounts and the family home. With less money to go around and two separate sets of expenses, both parties may be at an increased risk for financial issues as they head into their retirement, and with little to no working years left, they may be unable to recover.

Adult Children May Not Respond the Way You Expect

Senior citizens may assume that adult children are mature enough to handle their divorce, but they do not always respond as one might expect. Even as adults, they may experience grief over the separation of their parents. Some may even question whether their own marriage can stand the test of time. Grandchildren may also be negatively impacted - perhaps even confused by the entire situation. You may also find it difficult to separate yourself from your spouse during major holidays and family events.  

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Wheaton divorce lawyersThe marital home is often one of the more valuable assets that couples must divide during a divorce. In addition, there may be other types of real estate involved (rental properties, vacation homes, commercial buildings, etc.). Learn how most types of real estate are handled and divided in divorce by reading the following sections. You will also discover how a seasoned lawyer can help to protect your interests along the way. 

Valuation of the Property 

Properties must be valued before they can be divided. There are three basic methods that parties may use: tax assessed value, market analysis, and appraisal. Know and understand the potential drawbacks and benefits of using each method and choose the one that best fits your situation. Also, since arguments and disagreements are common, consider hiring your own appraiser if you and your spouse settle on the third and final option. It is also important to remember that any real estate tied to a business may have a more complex valuation process. Discuss the matter with your attorney to learn more. 

Determine the Amount of Equity 

The equity of a property is the portion that you and your spouse “own.” It is configured by subtracting any liens or mortgages held against the property. If taking out an equity loan, this would be the amount that a lender would use. If selling the home, it is the amount that you and your spouse can expect to see once the sale is final (provided the home sells at value). This aspect of dividing real estate can make or break your settlement - especially if one party intends to retain the property once the divorce has been finalized. 

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DuPage County parenting time attorneysDivorce can be difficult for children at any time of the year, but the holidays tend to be especially trying. Thankfully, parents can usually mitigate much of the stress, simply by being loving, responsible parents. Need some tangible solutions for your family? Try these tips for keeping everyone (yes, even your ex) happy during the holiday season. 

Make Sacrifices but Avoid Being a Martyr 

Children should never have to make sacrifices for their parents. Instead, it should be the parents making sacrifices for the sake of their kids. Whether it is giving up time with them to allow time with your ex’s family or simply avoiding altercations and arguments when your spouse is being combative, putting in extra effort can go a long way toward ensuring your child feels both happy and loved during this holiday season. Just be sure to avoid the martyr syndrome; your child does not need to know the efforts you have made. Instead, simply let them reap the reward. 

Get Into the Spirit of Giving 

The holiday season is all about giving. So, whether it is allowing your ex to keep the kids on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to avoid an argument (and working it out later) or simply taking your child to choose a gift for their other parent, the more you give, the less stressful the season will be for your child. 

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Illinois divorce attorneysDivorce can be a financially and emotionally trying process, even in the best of circumstances. What is more, if you are unprepared for the process, divorce could have a lasting effect on your health, sanity, and financial stability. Take proactive steps and these practical tips that can make your Illinois divorce more bearable. 

1. Find a Way to Compartmentalize Your Divorce

While the emotional aspects of divorce cannot be overlooked or ignored, they can get in the way when dealing with matters related to your children and finances. Anger and resentment can cause you to decline fair offers, and you may even find yourself using your child as a bargaining chip, despite your best efforts. Avoid such issues through compartmentalization. Handle emotions in a healthy way, outside of negotiations. Journal, find a support system, and if necessary, attend therapy or counseling. When it comes time to negotiate, focus on what is best for you, your child, and your future, rather than how you feel. 

2. Track Your Spouse’s Earning and Expenses Before Filing for Divorce 

Spouses tend to become protective of their personal and financial information once they learn of a divorce, and if they hire an attorney, they are likely to change the passwords on their computer, phone, and financial accounts. As a result, you may be unable to gather the financial information you need for your case, which can ultimately impact the amount of your settlement. Avoid this consequence by tracking and gathering documentation on all of your spouse’s income and expenses, prior to filing for your divorce. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersCouples spend months or years dating before they decide to marry. Yet, when it comes to divorce, parties sometimes make rash decisions, opting to end their marriage before fully thinking it through. It is only when they are buried by the grief and cost that regret starts to surface. By then, it may be too late to undo the damage. Do not let this happen to you. Stop and answer these five questions before you file the paperwork for your Illinois divorce. 

1. How Would Life Improve if You Divorced? 

Divorce is not the answer to every solution. Sometimes, couples simply need to reconnect, forgive, or make wants and needs clear to one another. Money issues, which can escalate stress levels and cause couples to argue more often, may simply need to be weathered until they pass. 

In contrast, there are things that cannot be fixed with time, empathy, or patience. Abuse, infidelity, contempt, and irreconcilable differences (i.e. varying views on religion or parenting techniques) are just a few examples. Determine where you fall on the spectrum by considering if life would improve if you divorced, and clarify in what ways it would improve. Making your decision in this way reduces the risk of regret as you move forward with the process. 

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Wheaton custody lawyersWhen a child's parents decide to divorce, they must determine who will have decision-making power over certain aspects of their child’s life, such as where they will go to school or church. This component of a parenting plan, now known as the allocation of parental rights (formerly known as custody) is made based on the best interests of the child. Learn more about this phrase and its meaning in the following sections, and discover how a seasoned family law attorney can help you with developing a sound and comprehensive parenting plan to fit your family’s needs.

Best Interest of a Child - The Basics 

In the simplest of terms, the best interest of a child is the standard that the courts used to make parenting plan determinations. It assesses what might be “best” for the child, based on their needs. Studies have consistently shown that children tend to fare best after a divorce when they have the continued support and connection with both parents, so several states have made a 50-50 parenting plan the default. In all other states, a variety of factors are used to determine how parental responsibilities should be allocated between the divorcing parties. 

Factors Used to Determine a Child’s Best Interests 

Because the best interest of a child is based on their specific needs and situation, numerous factors may be used to make determinations regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities, including: 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersAside from the family home, retirement accounts are typically one of the more valuable assets in a couple’s marital estate. When dealing with one in divorce, the valuation must be accurate and the division process must be exacting. Otherwise, the parties may be subject to lengthy delays, severe tax penalties, and a significant decrease in the overall value of their final settlement. Thankfully, all of these issues can be avoided, so long as the parties are educated about the process and have proper guidance from seasoned, competent financial and legal professionals. 

Not All Retirement Plans Are Divided in Divorce 

Though it is rare, it is possible for a retirement pension plan to be excluded from the marital estate. One example would be if the contributing party started the account prior to the marriage and has not made a contribution since that time. Contributing parties who wish to keep their retirement account intact may also choose to “buy out” their spouse by offering up other marital assets in lieu of a cut from the pension plan (i.e. trading the family home for the retirement plan). 

Qualified Domestic Relation Orders 

Qualified domestic relation orders, or QDROs, are used to divide “qualified” retirement plan assets between a contributing member and their ex-spouse. It is one of the few instances in which the plan can be divided without facing a tax penalty. However, a penalty may still ensue if the QDRO is not done, or if a mistake is made. For example, if you transfer funds directly to your spouse to help them out with money until they can get back on their feet, hefty tax penalties could ensue for you both. To avoid such matters, have a qualified team of legal and financial advisors on board before making any transfers or changes to your retirement plan. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersWhile any divorce can be complex, emotional, and acrimonious, few cases escalate quite as severely or quickly as those that involve the narcissist. Manipulative, charismatic, and calculating, they will do almost anything to “get even” with the spouse that wants to divorce them. Learn how to manage such a situation, and discover how our seasoned lawyers can help protect both you and your children during your Illinois divorce

1. Start an “Armageddon” Fund Now

Any divorce can become costly, especially when the divorcing parties struggle to find common ground. When it comes to the narcissist, there is no common ground; there is only retaliation and manipulation. As such, anyone divorcing a narcissist should plan for a costly and lengthy divorce. The narcissist spouse may also attempt to freeze or stop all funds. 

Start saving for armageddon now and you can avoid a lot of financial stress once you do start the divorce process. Just be certain to divulge to your attorney that you have stored money away for your own protection. Armed with that knowledge, they can add those funds to the pool of assets to be divided in the divorce without you being at risk for “stealing” assets. 

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Illinois parenting plan attorneysWhen married parents decide to divorce, they must develop a parenting plan that addresses both the allocation of parental rights (formerly known as child custody) and parenting time (formerly known as visitation). The details of that plan are used to draft a legal document that is then registered with the courts.

Once entered, parenting plans are considered a legally binding agreement between the two parents; failure to comply could result in severe and costly consequences. As such, it is critical that divorcing couples fully understand the differences, limitations, and nuances of both parenting plan components. Learn more with help from the following sections. 

Allocation of Parental Rights 

The allocation of parental rights determines the amount of decision-making power that a parent has in their child’s life, particularly when it comes to “hot button” issues like education, medical care, and religious practices. It is important to note that a parent does not lose their right to have a say in their child’s life if they do not receive an equal or greater allocation. Instead, the other parent simply has the “final say,” and they are able to make smaller, day-to-day decisions without having to consult the other parent. 

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llinois parenting time lawyersAccording to studies on divorce, children tend to adjust best when they have the continued love and support of both parents. While many divorcing couples understand this and strive to ensure that the child has time and a connection with both parties, some struggle to find common ground. In such a scenario, the courts may be forced to decide where the child will live and go to school, but what happens between the filing of paperwork and the finalization of divorce?

Prioritizing the Best Interests of the Child 

Divorce can bring out the worst in people. Not only do they have to completely rearrange their lives, but they are also dealing with a perceived loss, which can lead to feelings of grief. If unmanaged, grief can lead to feelings of anger and resentment toward one’s spouse. Those emotions can be further amplified if one feels that their spouse is responsible for the divorce, or is trying to “take the child away.” There are other scenarios that can create strife in a divorce as well, such as a party feeling like they are losing their child, or that they are not getting enough time with them. 

Though these feelings typically subside over time, the actions taken while they occur can have a life-long impact on the child. Words said can cause the child to feel as though they are wrong for missing their other parent or wanting to spend time with them. Children may also become frightened or worried that the other parent will stop loving them or disappear. As a parent, it is your job to help your child deal with and combat these negative feelings and emotions by ensuring the child has a healthy and continued relationship with both of their parents. Work hard to prioritize their best interests and find a healthy way to deal with the feelings of loss and grief that may arise during the divorce process. 

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