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Wheaton IL family law lawyerMany people nowadays consider their pets an important part of their family. Dogs and cats provide companionship and can reduce your anxiety and depression. If you and your spouse have recently filed for divorce, you may wonder who will get the family pet. Your furry family member likely means the world to you, and imagining your life without it may be difficult. In Illinois, pets were once considered marital property in a divorce. However, as of 2018, pets are looked at somewhat similarly to children during divorce proceedings.

Factors Judges Consider When Determining Custody of Pets

Before 2018, pets would be given to one spouse in a divorce based on what was fair and equitable. These days, however, a family court judge will assign custody based in part on the animal’s well-being. A judge may look at many different factors before coming to a decision, such as each spouse’s relationship with the pet and contributions to its care. If one spouse, for example, spends more time with the pet and has paid for the majority of the food, vet and grooming bills, the judge may grant custody to that spouse. Your testimony and evidence of expenditures and care for the pet may help to strengthen your case.

In some cases, the judge may grant joint custody if it would be in the dog or cat’s best interests to keep a relationship with both partners. For example, the judge may rule that the pet will be on the same parenting schedule that your kids are on.

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dupage county divorce lawyerOver the last several weeks, we have discussed the common issues that parents of minor children are likely to encounter when getting divorced, focusing on the differing effects on different age groups, including infants and toddlers, elementary-aged children, and teenagers. Adult children, meaning those at least 18 years old, can also be impacted by their parents’ divorce. While you may not need to address matters like child support and parenting time for your adult children, you should still consider how the process and outcome will affect them.

How Does Divorce Affect Adult Children?

With the increasing prevalence of “gray divorce,” a term for a divorce that happens when the spouses are at least 50 years old, many adult children are faced with the prospect of a huge and unexpected change in their family life. Unlike younger children, adults will not have to cope with changes to their daily routine due to divided parenting time. However, the divorce can affect everything from communication with each parent to holiday plans to relationships with grandchildren.

Divorce can also take an emotional toll on adult children, who may be forced to reconcile with the fact that the family dynamic they have become accustomed to throughout their childhood and beyond will never be the same. Adult children can also find themselves stuck in the middle between two parents who expect them to take a side, or they may feel anger and resentment toward a parent whose behavior seems to have caused the divorce. Parents may be able to prevent some of the worst effects by resolving their divorce amicably, but even so, it is important to communicate with your adult children and possibly even encourage them to join you in family therapy.

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dupage county divorce lawyerIn recent weeks, we have looked at some of the common challenges that arise for parents of infants and toddlers and elementary-aged children during the divorce process. This week, we continue with helpful information for parents of teenagers. Parenting teenage children can be challenging even under the best circumstances, and it can be especially difficult to help them cope with your divorce. It is important to make an effort to understand their needs and to address them through your child support order and the allocation of parental responsibilities.

The Effects of Divorce on Teenagers

Teenagers are likely to cope with divorce very differently when compared to younger age groups. On the one hand, their advanced maturity level may help them better understand the reasons for your divorce, and you may be able to have more meaningful conversations with them about the process. However, you should still try to keep the parent-child relationship in mind and avoid treating your child like a friend or confidant, especially when it comes to complaining about their other parent.

On the other hand, teenagers may also turn to unhealthy or destructive coping mechanisms if the divorce process is particularly hard on them. They may be susceptible to substance abuse and other risk-taking behavior, and they could struggle to maintain healthy relationships with their friends or romantic partners. Many teens also see their academic performance suffer during the divorce process, and they could even begin to show symptoms of serious mental health issues like anxiety and depression. If you see that your child is having a difficult time, make yourself available to talk and consider seeking help from a professional therapist if necessary.

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dupage county child custody lawyerIn our last blog, we discussed some of the challenges that Illinois parents of infants and toddlers often face when getting a divorce. We know that parents of children of all ages need support during the divorce process, and we continue this week by addressing some important considerations for parents of children who are in elementary school. The unique needs of children of this age require special attention when it comes to issues like child custody and child support.

How Do Elementary-Aged Children Respond to Divorce?

By the time children reach the age of 5, they are starting to form more lasting memories and become more aware of the world around them. This awareness only increases as time goes on. Elementary-aged children may pick up on signs of the divorce, especially if there is visible conflict between their parents, but they are unlikely to fully understand what is happening and why. As a result, they may have many questions about the divorce, most of which revolve around their concerns that they are at fault. They may be worried that their behavior is making one of the parents want to leave, or even that their parents do not love them anymore. The stress of the divorce can also affect a child’s relationships with their friends and peers, as well as their performance in school and their general mood. In many cases, a child psychologist or family therapist can be beneficial to help children of this age cope.

Providing for Elementary-Aged Children in Your Divorce Resolution

Children between the ages of 5 and 10 are often more amenable to shared parenting time arrangements, and this is an important consideration when you and your spouse are working out a parenting plan. However, elementary school children also have a school routine to consider, and they are often starting to get involved in sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities.

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wheaton divorce lawyerBy the time you decide to file for divorce, you are likely ready to end your marriage as soon as possible. However, an Illinois divorce can be a long process, sometimes lasting many months or more from the filing date to the final approval of the divorce resolution. While it is difficult to avoid the waiting time altogether, several factors can make the divorce process move more quickly, allowing you to put your marriage behind you and move on with your life.

Options for a More Efficient Divorce in Illinois

The longest divorces involve contentious disputes between spouses that require court intervention and trial litigation to reach a resolution. You may be able to expedite the divorce process by committing to a more cooperative, amicable approach to resolving the issues at hand. Any of the following options can also lead to a faster divorce resolution:

  • Joint simplified dissolution - This is perhaps the most efficient method for ending a marriage in Illinois, but it is only an option for some couples. You may qualify if you and your spouse have no children and minimal income and assets. In this case, you will need to agree to a settlement regarding the division of marital assets and waive the right to spousal maintenance.

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