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Wheaton divorce attorneysMost parents are aware that divorce could negatively impact their child; it is why so many are hesitant to call it quits on their marriage. Still, studies show that a tumultuous home environment is more damaging to a child. As such, parents are encouraged to understand how and why a divorce might cause issues for their child. It also helps to have a plan in place.

Understanding the How and Why

Although divorce can negatively affect all children, the biggest risk seems to apply to those who are “well off” prior to the split. More specifically, adolescents whose mothers have a college education were found to be most impacted by parental divorce in a recent study conducted by Sondre Aasan Nilsen of the Norwegian Research Centre (NORCE) and the University of Bergen, Norway, and colleagues. On average, their GPAs were 0.3 points lower than peers with intact families from the same socioeconomic class. Previous research has also indicated that well-off children are less likely to attend college after a parental divorce.

Perhaps children from lower socioeconomic classes show less impact, simply because they are already less likely to excel in school or attend college, or maybe well-off children are ill-prepared for divorce because they have not suffered as much disappointment and heartache as children from lower socioeconomic classes. Whatever the cause, it is middle-class parents (and above) who most need a plan for minimizing the risk of poor academic performance in their child.

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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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Illinois divorce attorneysPeople often see kids as resilient, but the truth is, they are no different from other people. They may struggle to cope with difficult situations. Such is often the case in a divorce. Determine if your child may need therapy to cope with your separation by looking for the following signs. 

Difficulty in School and Social Life 

Children who are depressed and out of sorts may find it difficult to concentrate in school, or they may begin to lose interest in their social life. Watch for slipping grades, poor behavior, and an overall disinterest in social activities. They may also avoid their friends. Alternatively, your child’s social circle may begin to change; they may start to hang out with delinquents or kids who drink and do drugs. A chance to talk about their feelings may help to improve the situation, but if you are concerned about your child’s safety or future, it may be time to seek professional help. 

Regression and Behavioral Issues at Home

When children go through a difficult or traumatic event, they may display regressive behaviors, such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting. Alternatively, your child may start acting out at home. Some become aggressive and lash out at their parents or siblings. Others may steal, lie, or attempt to manipulate. Most of the time, these behaviors will subside with time, but if they are severe or persist, you may need to seek counseling for your child. 

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Wheaton family law attorneysWhile many parents are able to complete their divorce with little to no fanfare, there are situations in which the best interest of the child comes into question. In these difficult and often heartbreaking cases, a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) may be assigned. Learn more about what an assignment of this court liaison may mean for your Illinois child custody case, and discover what our seasoned Wheaton divorce attorneys can do to help with the situation. 

Understanding the Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

Either parent can request that a Guardian Ad Litem be assigned to their case. Alternatively, a judge may assign one, if they feel that the aid of one is warranted. Considered a liaison for the court, they serve as an advocate for the child. They may visit them at school, or at home. They may also meet privately with each of the parents, the school, and persons of interest to the child or family (i.e. stepparents, grandparents, etc.). Requests for a list of witnesses may also be made. 

The goal here is to understand the child’s current situation, and then reach a decision regarding what may be best for their future. Considerations can include where the child will live, and the amount of time they might spend with each parent. It is important to note that the Guardian Ad Litem is not the child’s attorney, so while they may allow the child to voice their preferences and desires, they are not obligated to follow the child’s wishes when making their determination.

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