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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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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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Wheaton parenting time attorneysThanks to studies and real-life families, shared parenting plans are on the rise. In fact, several states have introduced bills that would make a 50-50 parenting time split the starting point in all divorces - but is this trend appropriate for every family? Consider the following pros and cons of a shared parenting plan, and learn how our seasoned divorce lawyers can help you in deciding whether one may be right for your family. 

What is a Shared Parenting Plan?

Shared parenting plans typically involve a near-equal split of the child’s time. Some families switch off weekly, with one parent having the child for a week and then the other. In other shared parenting plans, the child may switch homes throughout the week, perhaps with one parent taking the beginning of the week (i.e. Sunday through Wednesday) and the other taking the remaining days. The latter plan will typically involve a switch-off, where the child may spend four days with one parent one week, and then three with that same parent on the following week.

The Potential Pros of a Shared Parenting Plan 

At their core, shared parenting plans are designed to ensure the child has ample time with each parent. Studies have shown that this can be highly beneficial for the child’s overall growth and development - and not just during the divorce, but in the years to follow. Families with shared parenting plans also tend to have better communication, overall, because the plan itself requires a great deal of cooperation. Of course, not all parents can communicate in such a way after their divorce, and that can lead to complications down the road. 

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Illinois parenting time attorneysWith more parents speaking out about the benefits of 50-50 shared parenting, and more studies indicating their benefits, the popularity of such plans are increasing. Of course, like most things, there are some challenges to drafting such a parenting plan - especially if you are used to being around your child all of the time or have doubts about the other parent’s ability to handle the child. Discover how to overcome such challenges in your parenting time case, and how our seasoned family law attorneys can assist you with the process. 

Pursue an Amicable Divorce or Separation

Relationships that end in explosion might make for great fiction, but in real life, these endings have real consequences - especially when there are children involved. Studies have shown that it is not necessarily the end of the relationship that negatively influences children. Instead, they say it is the amount of conflict they experience between their parents on a daily basis. That means two very important things:

  • Staying in a toxic relationship is highly unlikely to benefit your child. Instead, it is far more likely to do them harm, and
  • An amicable split to your relationship is far less likely to have a negative impact on your child than a toxic one.

Focus on Your Child’s Needs and Best Interests

Parents are only human, and divorce and break-ups are often painful, which can cause emotions to run high. As a result, the parent may struggle to separate their own feelings about the end of the relationship from what the child truly needs - which is often a healthy, connected relationship with both of their parents. 

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DuPage County parenting time lawyersGoing through a divorce is hard on parents, but it can be especially difficult for children. They are experiencing a range of emotions, and they might not understand how to deal with those emotions effectively. Reading books to your young children can help them to see that they are not alone, and what they are feeling is normal. Books can also show children how to deal with and express complex emotions. The following books would be a great place to start: 

It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear, by Vicki Lansky

This sweet story tells of a young bear cub whose parents are getting divorced. Koko Bear goes through a range of emotions, including anger, guilt, sadness, and confusion. The best part of the book is that it offers advice to parents on how to help children with these emotions. 

My Family’s Changing, by Pat Thomas

A sweet little picture book that tells about how divorce affects families. It has a “What About You” section that gives parents a number of questions that parents can ask their children. Ultimately, answering these questions can help the child to better understand and express their feelings. 

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