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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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wheaton divorce lawyerThe birth of a child is often cause for celebration, and many parents find that their relationship grows stronger as they work together to raise their child. Unfortunately, however, some parents decide that their marriage is no longer working soon after their child is born. Getting a divorce when you have an infant or toddler can be especially hard, and it is important to think carefully about your child’s needs and best interests as you work to resolve divorce issues.

How Does Divorce Affect Infants and Toddlers?

Children under the age of three will not understand the reasons for a divorce, and research suggests that they may not even form lasting memories of the events surrounding the divorce. However, because these years are so important to a child’s development, divorce can still affect them significantly. Hurtful conflict between parents and constant interruptions to the child’s routine can cause trauma with effects that resurface as the child gets older. There may also be more immediately noticeable effects. For example, your child may become more dependent on you or the other parent or regress in their development with regard to sleep routines and potty training.

Parental Responsibility and Child Support Considerations

Often, the best way to support your infant or toddler throughout the divorce process is to commit to working together with your spouse to create a parenting plan that considers their best interests. Consistency is especially important for young children, so it may be best to create a parenting time schedule in which your child mostly stays with one parent while the other parent has scheduled visitation time.

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Wheaton family law attorneysWhether or not a child’s parents are married, the child often benefits from having both parents involved in his or her life. Many parents are also invested in securing and maintaining a relationship with their child. Unfortunately, for unmarried fathers, such a relationship is not necessarily guaranteed. However, there is a legal process that unmarried fathers can follow to secure the basic rights of parentage, along with an allocated share of parenting time and parental responsibilities in many cases.

Establishing Legal Paternity

Before an unmarried father can ask for parenting time or parental responsibilities, he will need to be recognized as the child’s legal parent. In Illinois, there is more than one way for a man to establish legal paternity. First, along with the child’s mother, he can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) and file it with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Provided that there are no objections or competing claims from other alleged fathers, this is usually the most simple method of securing parental rights.

If a VAP is not possible, perhaps because the mother is not in agreement or there is uncertainty regarding the child’s biological father, a man can petition the court for an adjudication of paternity. As part of this process, the man can submit to genetic testing and present other evidence and testimony to support his claim of fatherhood. If the results of the test show that the man is most likely the child’s father, the court can issue a judicial order of parentage, providing the father with basic rights and an obligation to contribute to child support.

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DuPage County divorce lawyersRaising children is a challenge under any circumstances, and divorce only introduces further complications. Your children will likely look to you for greater emotional support during this difficult time, and even if you and your former spouse are committed to working together, you are likely to face challenges in coordination. If you and your ex are prone to conflict, co-parenting effectively may seem next to impossible. However, it is possible to establish a productive co-parenting strategy that can reduce stress and lead to a better life for you and your family.

Suggestions for Co-Parenting Successfully

Every co-parenting relationship is different, and some are more conflict-ridden than others, but the following suggestions can help you be a better co-parent under almost any circumstances:

  • Follow your parenting plan. During the divorce process, the court will seek to ensure that your parenting plan, including the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, is created in your children’s best interests. This means that in the months and years after your divorce, following your parenting plan is not only a show of respect to the other parent, but also a way to support your children. Your children will benefit from a consistent routine, which includes a clear schedule of time with each parent as well as a clear plan for transportation between homes and other important events.
  • Find the best way to communicate. Co-parenting effectively with your former spouse means that you will need to communicate on some level. However, the best way to do so depends in large part on your relationship. You and your ex may get along very well, in which case face-to-face or phone communication may be a great option for collaboration in the raising of your children. However, if you struggle to stay out of arguments with your ex, you may instead choose to communicate in writing, which has less of an emotional component.
  • Recognize what you can and cannot control. Despite your best efforts, you will likely find that you cannot fully control your former spouse’s parenting style. If he or she does something differently from how you would have done it, try to let it go as long as it does not harm your children. Instead, focus on controlling your own actions and being the best parent you can be during the time that you have with your children.
  • Keep your kids out of the conflict. One of the worst things you can do as a parent is to pull your children into your conflict with your former spouse. Avoid talking negatively to your kids about their other parent, asking them to convey angry or passive aggressive messages, and other similar behaviors. These actions can seriously damage your children’s relationships with both parents and affect the way that they handle conflict themselves.

Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney

If you are looking for advice and assistance with your post-divorce co-parenting, the attorneys at the Davi Law Group can help you put a strong legal foundation in place in the form of a parenting plan that protects your children’s interests. We can also help you with modifications to your parenting plan if you find that there is a need for a change. Contact a Wheaton divorce lawyer today at 630-504-0176 for a free initial consultation.

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DuPage County family attorneys, Illinois parenting plansWithin 120 days after filing a petition to allocate parental responsibilities for a minor child, divorcing parents must file a proposed parenting plan that covers decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. It is great when parents can agree on the parenting plan, but that is not always possible.

There are numerous meticulous details involved with planning out your child’s life, which you must address at a time when emotions may be running high over disputes with your spouse. Fortunately, the court can order your case to mediation to assist with developing a parenting plan and it is a process that presents benefits for your entire family.

Court-Ordered Mediation to Develop a Parenting Plan

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DuPage County family law lawyers, parental responsibilitiesThe Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines the allocation of parental responsibilities when parents of minor children divorce, stating that it includes both parenting time and decision-making regarding the child. The law covers various aspects of raising a child, like choices involving education, healthcare, and religion. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act also refers to extracurricular activities, which might be obvious interests and pastimes the child enjoys. However, many parents overlook the importance of online activities in a child’s life—which should certainly be considered alongside sports, camp, music lessons, and other pursuits.

When working on the parenting plan that is required by law, talk with your divorce lawyer about online activities as part of parental responsibilities in Illinois.

Time Spent Online Per Day or Week

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DuPage County family law attorneys, parental responsibilitiesPartners to a civil union often deal with the same marital issues as any couple, so there can be many questions when the relationship comes to an end. One of the most important aspects to dissolution of a civil union is what happens to minor children, and Illinois law does specifically address parental responsibilities in the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. You should discuss the details of your situation with a DuPage County parental responsibilities lawyer, but the following includes answers to some common questions.

How Does the Civil Union Act Apply to Divorcing Couples?

In general, the Act establishes a status that offers all the rights, interests, and benefits of marriage to individuals without regard to their gender. The “civil union” became the legal equivalent of marriage for same-sex couples on Jun 1, 2011.

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DuPage County parenting responsibilities attorneys, parental responsibilityAt the beginning of the year, Illinois family law made several changes to the way it divides up parenting time, formerly known as visitation, and parenting responsibilities, formerly known as custody. While parenting time is somewhat straightforward—it has to do with when each parent has time with the children—parental responsibility can be a little more tricky.

If you are in the process of a divorce or are trying to figure out a new parenting plan, you should contact knowledgeable child custody attorneys to help you understand all the options you have for sharing or dividing up these responsibilities.

Parenting Responsibilities

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DuPage County family law attorney, parental responsibilities One of the biggest concerns that couples with children have during a divorce is with whom the children will live. There are many factors that go into decisions about where the children will live. Parents who want the child to live with them will be best served by working with a skilled family law attorney to help make their case in court.

The Best Interest of the Child 

The court makes its decisions based on the best interests of the child. The factors that go into best interests of the child are laid out in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. A number of factors that the court will examine include (depending on age) the child’s wishes, the needs of the child and parents, how the child will adjust to his or her school or community, whether the parents can get along, and if there has been any abuse in the family.

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Posted on in Family Law

DuPage County child custody attorneys, parental responsibilityBy now most Illinoisans know that starting January 1st, 2016, Illinois family law received a substantial facelift. “Legal custody” is a familiar legal concept that is being overhauled as part of the Illinois lawmakers’ efforts to modernize Illinois’s family law. The progress of cases in 2016 will help Illinois lawmakers determine whether these changes to how a court determines child custody will benefit Illinois families or further complicate already complex child custody determinations.

Legal Custody vs. Child Custody

Legal custody and physical custody are similar concepts. Physical custody determination decides with which parent a child should physically reside; legal custody decides which parent will make important decisions about a child’s upbringing and well-being, such as educational, religious, medical, and other important decisions.

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Posted on in Family Law

DuPage county divorce attorneys, Illinois family law changesThis fall, important aspects of Illinois family law will change. SB57 is Illinois' effort to change the way family law is practiced in Illinois.

Illinois law now rejects determinations of fault in divorce and seeks to remove the stigma of being a non-custodial parent. The new provisions accept the fact that marriages do not always work out and seeks to ensure that a child's needs are met.

Understanding these these changes will be critical for couples seeking divorce and creating custody agreements in the near future. It is important to consider these changes to Illinois family law that may affect you in the future:

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