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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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Illinois family law attorneysIn a divorce, the safety and well-being of children are prioritized by the courts. As such, accusations of abuse and parental alienation are treated as serious matters. Learn how abuse and alienation claims are handled by the family courts, how it may impact your parental rights, and what you can do to improve your chances of a positive outcome in your Illinois divorce

Immediate Effects of Abuse and Alienation Claims 

Once a claim of abuse or alienation is made, your rights may be immediately impacted. You could be subject to supervised visitation, meaning you cannot see or spend time with your children unless another adult or court-appointed supervisor is present. Depending on the situation, you may even be restricted from speaking with your child over the phone. 

Though claims may be unfounded, the courts require that an investigation take place before your rights can be fully returned to you. Typically, this means you will need to speak with a social worker or your child’s Guardian Ad Litem. They may also speak to your child’s friends, neighbors, teachers, and other persons of interest in your child’s life. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersDivorce has seen a lot of changes since its peak in the United States. Whereas courts used to almost always award custody to the mother, with fathers being afforded very few rights, the system now recognizes that children need and deserve the love and support of both parents. Developmental and behavioral studies on children have been integral to these changes, but parents themselves have helped to pave the way as well. 

Divorcing Parents Have Created a New Trend 

While some divorce cases involving children remain acrimonious, the majority of parents recognize that their child is extremely vulnerable to behavioral and emotional trauma during parental separation. Moreover, parents are becoming more knowledgable about the negative effects that a bitter divorce can have on the future and overall development of their child. As a result, many are intentional about the way they conduct themselves during the divorce process. 

Those who struggle to get along often seek out legal support. Parents have also worked to come up with ways to minimize strife and conflict in their divorce cases (i.e. communicating through text or email and minimizing conversations over the phone and in-person). They avoid saying negative things about the other parent in the presence of their child, and they foster a healthy and continued relationship between their child and their former spouse. As a result, divorcing parents are paving the way for a better future for their kids. 

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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 parenting time attorneysDivorce can bring out the worst in people - and that includes parents. Unfortunately, the stakes of divorce tend to be higher when there are children involved. They can suffer from maladjustment issues, a strained relationship with their parents, and even poor academic performance when the proceedings are not carefully managed.

Thankfully, there are tools and resources that parents can use to mitigate such issues during a divorce, even if the parents themselves cannot seem to get along. Learn more with help from the following sections. 

Start with a Solid Co-Parenting Plan 

The first step to protecting your child in a divorce is ensuring you have a solid co-parenting plan, moving forward. Determine how often your child will be with you, and how often they will be their other parent. Also, consider matters like who will drop your child off at school. Who will pick them up? Who can provide the best accommodations of your child over the weekend? Holidays, birthdays, and summers with your child should also be carefully considered. 

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Illinois parenting time attorneysChildren, although seen as resilient, can suffer greatly during a divorce. Thankfully, attentive and loving parents can ease the transition to improve their child’s outcome. Learn more about how to help your child cope during your impending Illinois divorce, and discover how a seasoned attorney can ease the process so that you have more time to focus on your child’s needs.

Place Your Child’s Interests at the Forefront 

Loving parents are generally pretty attentive to the needs and well-being of their children, but during a divorce, life can feel pretty out of sorts. Add in a dose of guilt, depression, or even just the stress that a divorce may cause, and it is easy to see why parents sometimes lose sight of what might be best for their kids. Parents may also become preoccupied with “winning” the divorce - and not necessarily because they want to get even with their spouse. Some simply struggle with the idea of splitting the time they have with their children. 

To avoid such issues in your divorce, start by first examining your situation, rather than your feelings. Consider what your child needs most. Is it stability? Perhaps they would adjust best if allowed to stay in their current neighborhood, rather than having to move and change schools. Now consider which parent may be able to best meet your child’s daily needs. Now consider how you ensure your child has their other needs met - specifically time and a connection with the parent that cannot meet their daily needs. Use all of this as a foundation for your parenting plan. 

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Wheaton family law attorneysStudies have long shown that divorce can impact the academic performance of children, but a new research project provides even more insight into the types of families that are more likely to see such issues after a divorce. Learn more in the following sections, and discover how our seasoned attorneys may be able to help improve the outcome for your children. 

Study Examines Academic Issues in Children After Parental Divorce

The study, which was published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, examined the families and socioeconomic demographics of 11,512 children and 4,931 children to determine their risk of divorce. Researchers then cross-referenced the data and compared it to the educational outcomes of the children who ultimately experienced a divorce, as well as those who did not. Children from families that had a low risk of divorce saw a greater risk of poor academic performance and an increased risk of not completing their education. 

Specifically, the children from families with a low divorce risk were 6 percent less likely to graduate from high school, and approximately 15 percent less likely to graduate from college. In contrast, children who came from families with a high risk of divorce suffered almost no academic deficit after the separation of their parents. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysLoving parents will do almost anything to ensure their children feel happy and safe. Sadly, not even the best efforts can save some marriages - and when a child’s parents go through a divorce, they are bound to be impacted. Thankfully, there are many strategies that a parent can employ to minimize the negative effects of a divorce. Next to pursuing an amicable separation, validating the child’s feelings is one of the most effective and critical. 

Why Validation Works

Everyone experiences feelings of anger, sadness, and grief; children are no exception. However, children do not always know how to verbalize their feelings. Because of this, their feelings may come out in the form of negative or undesirable behaviors. Examples can include meltdowns or temper tantrums, separation anxiety, withdrawal from family and friends, poor academic performance, and extreme sensitivity. 

Validation may not remedy all of these issues, but it can certainly go a long way to helping a child heal during and after a divorce. It allows them to feel as though they have a voice, and that their feelings are important. That can be critical for a child who feels like every decision is out of their control. Even better is when a parent can help their child identify their feelings and learn how to put them into words. 

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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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Wheaton family law attorneysThe decision to get divorced is one you should take seriously. If children are involved, you should be especially diligent in making the right decision for the family unit. Divorce can hurt kids, even when the parents are agreeable, but the effect may far worse if the interactions between parents become toxic. 

In knowing this, most parents put forth the effort to thwart toxicity in their situation. However, that is not always the case. Learn how continued toxicity in your divorce can negatively impact your children, and discover what you can do when faced with a parent who is consistently making poor, selfish, or negative decisions regarding your children and/or matters involving them in your Illinois divorce. 

Examining the Potential Effects of a Toxic Divorce 

While each case may vary based on a range of factors (i.e. the temperament of the child, level of toxicity, the form of toxicity, or whether additional forms of abuse are present in the marriage or family environment, etc.), children who witness a toxic divorce situation often share similar traits and issues. Some of these include problems with:

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Illinois parenting time lawyersIf you are unable to raise your child with their other parent due to divorce, breakup, or any other reason, the state of Illinois will want you to have a legal parenting plan in place. This is a complex, and often emotional process that needs to be handled well for the benefit of your child, and yourself. When working on a parenting plan, make sure to consider the following essential concepts. 

Put Your Child First

The most important thing to consider when working on a parenting plan is that it is all about your children, not yourself. It is tempting to fight to keep your child with you every day and ensure you are able to make every possible decision throughout their childhood. The fact is, however, that in the vast majority of cases it is better for the child to encourage them to have a close relationship with each parent, and for the parents to work together. Putting your child first may be hard, but it will help them to thrive long into the future. 

Be Ready to Make Concessions 

It is almost unheard of for any parent to get 100% of what they want when discussing a parenting plan. This is why it can be so helpful to work with a mediator, arbitrator, or another objective third-party who can help facilitate compromise. When getting ready to discuss your parenting plan, try to have some flexibility so that you can successfully come to an agreement. Of course, this does not mean you have to give up specific things that are extremely important to you!

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DuPage County family law attorneysThanks to mounds of scientific research, the verdict on how to best help children after a divorce is clear: In most cases, children fare best when they have a healthy and consistent relationship with both of their parents. Ideally, that would include a lot of face-to-face time with the child, but not every divorced couple can stay in the same neighborhood, city, or state. 

Just a short few years ago, families who lived far apart had to rely on phone conversations to stay connected. In-person visits, though scheduled as frequently as possible, rarely made up for the lack of face-to-face contact that occurred between the parent and child during their separation. Science says that technology is already starting to fill that gap - and its effect is only expected to improve over time. 

Video Chatting, Texting, and Social Media Helps Parents and Kids Stay Connected 

Parent-child connections can be difficult to maintain after a divorce - and not just because of time or distance. In high-conflict situations (i.e. differing views on hot topic issues, such as discipline, religion, or values), parents may struggle to maintain civil communications. 

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Wheaton parenting time attorneysDivorce often marks the beginning of a happier, more evolved life for the formerly married parties. Some people discover their passion or find a new love. Others return to their roots for love and support, which may ultimately deepen their relationships with extended family and old friends. Whatever the scenario, divorce can ultimately change people for the better. Sadly, the same cannot always be said for the children of divorce.

Understanding Why Children Are So Vulnerable in a Divorce 

Children of divorce are often victims of circumstance with little to no decision-making power in the process. If their parents decide to sell the family home and both move into a smaller or cheaper place, the child may be forced to change schools. When parents struggle to get along or agree on specific, child-related matters (i.e. what religion the child should practice or where they should go to school) they may be caught in the middle of a long and contentious battle over parenting time issues or the allocation of parental responsibilities. 

In short, contentious divorce proceedings can leave a child feeling as though their entire life is hanging in the balance. Children may also begin to experience maladjustment issues, and if parents miss the warning signs, it can increase the risk of long-term mental health problems. 

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Wheaton family law attorneysThe divorce process can have a negative impact on all involved parties, but child experts say that it is children who are at the greatest risk for long-term, negative effects. Part of this can be attributed to their lack of control in the situation, but there are other aspects of a divorce that can increase a child’s risk of developing mental, emotional, or behavioral issues during the process. For example, studies suggest children are more likely to suffer from maladjustment if interactions between their parents are contentious or tumultuous during the proceedings. 

What is Childhood Maladjustment? 

Childhood development is a complex process. Its course is determined by both nature and nurture - or what some would call a child’s environment and genetic makeup. Major events that change the dynamics of a family, whether positive or negative, can also have an impact on a child’s development. The birth of a sibling is usually seen as a positive influence, as they must learn to share their time, toys, and attention, which can ultimately make them more compassionate and empathetic people. 

Divorce tends to be seen as a negative influencer. It can leave children feeling at fault for the dissolution of their parent’s marriage. Fighting and tumultuous proceedings can also cause the child to feel as though they have to choose a side in the divorce, which can significantly impact their relationship with both parties - not just the parent that they attempt to snub. Some struggle to adjust when one parent leaves the home. Others may feel as though their entire world has been turned upside down, which may cause them to develop symptoms of depression or anxiety. 

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Illinois divorce lawyersWhile many studies have indicated that children can recover from the emotional turmoil of a divorce (and may, in some situations, fare better in divorce than if their parents stayed together), they are still vulnerable and innocent parties who can be significantly and negatively impacted by the process. As such, parents are encouraged to make every reasonable effort to mitigate the risk of divorce-related maladjustment in their child. One of the more effective ways to do this is through communication - and not just about the divorce itself, but also the feelings that children are likely to experience as they adjust to the changes of their new life. 

Grief, Loss, and Pain Impacts Children During Divorce

Divorcing parents were once led to believe that children were “resilient” enough to withstand the emotional turmoil of divorce without any long-term, negative effects, but more recent data disproves this outdated theory. Children can experience maladjustment issues from a divorce, even if they do not display any immediate signs or symptoms. That is because, like adults, children can experience the complexity of grief, loss, pain, stress, and even self-blame during the divorce process. If not addressed appropriately, those feelings can simmer below the surface, only to emerge at a later date - and often at a time when the parent least expects it. 

Protecting Your Child’s Mental and Emotional Well-Being During a Divorce

Children, though fairly resilient, need to be protected from the potential ill effects of divorce - particularly those that can negatively impact their mental or emotional well-being. Ensuring that the interactions between you and your spouse (including those that take place over the phone or through email) are amicable is a great way to start, but it may still be necessary to use other mitigating tactics as well. For example, you may want to attend a parenting course that is specifically designed for families impacted by divorce, or you may opt to enroll your child in a peer support group or therapy to ensure they have a private space to talk about their feelings. Just remember, even if you seek outside help for your child, it is still recommended that you address grief and pain with your child, directly, as they may need your support while trying to cope. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysDivorce can be a painful and difficult process for all involved parties, but children are said to be at an exceptionally high risk of experiencing long-term consequences. Child experts believe their heightened risk of complications could be attributed to the sense of powerlessness that children often feel during the divorce process. 

Children typically have no say over whether their parents’ marriage continues. In fact, most are unaware that a divorce is even happening until the proceedings are well underway. They are also rarely given a say over the decisions that are made during the divorce process, yet many of them affect the child’s day-to-day life. Examples include where the child will live and go to school and the amount of time that they get to spend with each parent once the divorce has been finalized.

Thankfully, it is possible for loving parents to mitigate many of the issues that children may experience during and after the divorce process. The first (and perhaps most important step) is to ensure that you put your child at the center of every decision you make - especially if it will directly affect them in the months and years to come.

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Illinois divorce attorneysDivorce is not something that couples typically think about on the day of their marriage. Yet, each year, thousands of couples decide to end their relationship. Many consider this process to be a painful one, full of grief and loss, but it is also the end of a legally binding contract. As such, the decisions that are made over the duration of a divorce can have a lasting impact on the lives of all involved parties, including any children they share. 

Thankfully, when divorcing parties choose to deal with the pain and stress of divorce in a healthy way, they tend to make more well-informed and carefully thought-out decisions. As a result, the long-term impact that divorce has on their lives, and the lives of their children is minimized. Learn how you can do this during your Illinois divorce, and discover the role that a seasoned divorce attorney plays in that process. 

Changing Your Perspective on the Process of Divorce

The feelings that tend to accompany divorce may be real and valid, but parties who can see them as a different element of the process tend to fare better than those who allow emotion to cloud their decisions. Divorce - the legal process of it - is more like a business transaction, and every decision that is made can significantly alter your life, your spouse’s life, and the lives of your children. 

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Illinois family law attorneysWhen parents go through a divorce, they must determine how to divide the cost and responsibilities associated with raising their child(ren). Child support is sometimes awarded to the parent with the most time with the child, but even still, there may be added expenses not covered by the supporting parent’s legal child support obligation. Learn how you can determine who should cover child-related expenses after your Illinois divorce, and discover how a seasoned family law attorney can assist you with the entire process. 

Child Support in Illinois - Understanding the Obligation 

Under state law, children have the right to receive emotional and financial support from both of their parents. Child support helps to ensure that financial need is met. However, not all parents are obligated to pay. Instead, the state uses the income of both parents, the average cost of raising a child, and the amount of parenting time awarded to each parent in order to determine how much support (if any) is owed. 

Extra expenses, such as healthcare costs, fees for extracurricular activities, and special equipment for a special needs’ child may be added in when calculating the amount of support that is owed, but parents do not always request to have them added. There may also be other child-related expenses that are not considered to be a part of the calculation. For example, parents may verbally agree to split the cost of back-to-school clothing and supplies, but this agreement may not be included in the divorce decree or child support order. College savings may not be included in the calculation either (even if there is an existing account that must be divided between the married parties), so parents may have to come to an agreement outside of court to ensure their child has the money they need to complete their education. 

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Illinois parenting time lawyersAlthough divorce can negatively impact all involved parties, children are considered especially vulnerable when a separation occurs. Factors like contention between the parents, parental alienation, or financial losses that may occur during the divorce can further increase the risk of long-term complications for kids. Thankfully, there are things that parents can do to mitigate the issues for their children. Learn more in the following sections, and discover how a seasoned divorce lawyer can assist you in the process. 

Understanding the Risks (and Their Causes) for Children of Divorce

Divorce is a process that involves the separating of parents. Children tend to experience a lot of negative emotion because they have little say or control over the process. That can create a whole host of issues, such as anxiety (including separation anxiety), depression, a lack of interest in their social life or extracurricular activities, and trouble concentrating or performing at school. If not addressed, these issues can plague children for the rest of their lives. Moreover, studies have found that children of divorce are more likely to experience trouble with the law, and they may struggle more to maintain long-term intimate relationships as adults. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersA college degree is almost critical to career success in today’s working world, and as the United States continues to move further away from manufacturing and more into a service-type economy, that need for higher education is expected to grow even further. Unfortunately, a recent study has found that children of divorce may be less likely to obtain this education. Learn more about why this might be, and discover how a seasoned divorce lawyer can help to improve the circumstances for your child during an Illinois divorce. 

Study Finds Children of Divorce Are Less Likely to Pursue a College Degree 

Most studies regarding divorce and children focus on the tender years - the way that a parental separation impacts the child’s immediate circumstances. Data from these suggest that children of divorce tend to have lower reading and math scores, are less engaged at school, and they tend to participate in fewer after-school activities than children whose parents stay married. Yet, until now, no one really knew how this translated into the lives of adult children of divorce.  

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