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DuPage County family law attorneysIn an Illinois divorce, spousal support may be ordered when one party has a financial need or limited means of providing for oneself. However, these spousal maintenance payments usually are ordered for a fixed duration, after which the receiving party will be expected to support him or herself without the assistance of the former spouse.

Under normal circumstances, it may be possible for the receiving spouse to attain financial independence before support payments end, but the economic stresses and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have made this much more difficult for many people, especially now that they have lasted for nearly a year. If your spousal maintenance order is set to terminate soon and you are concerned about your ability to support yourself, you may be able to petition for a modification that extends the duration of payments.

How Does Illinois Determine the Duration of Maintenance Payments?

Usually, if the court decides that spousal maintenance is necessary, it will order payments for a duration based on a calculation involving the length of the marriage. After a marriage of less than five years, maintenance will likely be ordered for less than one year, and usually only in the case of a marriage of 20 years or more will the court order spousal support for the full length of the marriage or an indefinite time period. However, the court will sometimes vary from these calculations if there is good reason. If you are in the process of a divorce and you are struggling financially, your attorney may be able to help you make the case for larger payments or a longer duration.

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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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Wheaton domestic violence attorneysIn Illinois, many couples choose to get a divorce simply due to irreconcilable differences that prevent them from resolving the issues in their marriage. However, in some cases, a more serious problem is at the root of the decision to divorce. Domestic violence, including intimate partner abuse and child abuse, affects millions of American families, and many experts report that incidents of domestic abuse have increased during stay-at-home orders resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have decided that a divorce is the best option to protect yourself and your children from an abusive spouse, you should be aware of how the abuse may affect the process.

Divorce Litigation is Likely Necessary

Though an amicable divorce can often be resolved between the two parties with minimal involvement of the court, a divorce involving domestic violence is much more likely to go to trial. Attempting to negotiate with an abusive spouse is unlikely to be successful, and it may put you at risk of additional abuse or manipulation. Instead, you should work with an attorney who can help you prepare for your case and protect your interests, including by documenting your financial assets and evidence of your spouse’s abuse.

You may also wish to initiate legal action outside of the divorce process itself. For example, an order of protection may be necessary to prevent contact or communication with your partner that could lead to further harm. Some orders of protection also protect your personal property and may allow you to retain sole access to your home temporarily. You may also wish to pursue other civil actions against your spouse for damages you have suffered as a result of the abuse.

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Wheaton adoption attorneysMany children benefit from the love and support of relatives outside of their immediate family, and this can be especially important for children whose parents are no longer living or are unable to care for them. In these cases, a relative will often step up to formally adopt the child, solidifying a legal relationship in addition to the personal relationship. If you are considering a related adoption, a family law attorney can help you with the process.

Who Can Adopt a Related Child?

In Illinois, a person is eligible to be an adoptive parent in a related adoption if they are related to the child in one of the following ways, either by blood, marriage, or adoption:

  • Parent or step-parent
  • Grandparent, step-grandparent, or great-grandparent
  • Sibling or step-sibling
  • Aunt, uncle, great-aunt, or great-uncle
  • First or second cousin

Unlike some other types of adoption in Illinois, the adoptive parents in a related adoption do not need to have lived in Illinois for at least six months. Usually, a married person must adopt a child with his or her spouse. Adoptive parents are also usually required to be legal adults, but the court may allow a minor to adopt if there is good cause, which may be the case when a child is adopted by his or her sibling.

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DuPage County divorce attorneysNo two families are the same, so it stands to reason that no two breakups are exactly alike. As such, the attorney that worked for your sister, friend, or colleague may not be the most suitable for your situation. Increases the chances that you will find the right divorce lawyer for your case by checking out the following five tips.

1. Consider the Type of Divorce You Want

Divorces used to take place in a courtroom. Today, there are numerous options for those who want to end their marriage. Litigated divorces follow the traditional path, which involves hiring lawyers, discovery, and a court date. Collaborative divorce options include a myriad of methods, including mediation and arbitration. These allow parties to work toward an amicable ending in their marriage, which may be more suitable for couples with children or high net worth.

2. Determine What You Want Most

For some couples, the main priority is ending the marriage amicably. Others focus on the cost. Still, there are those who want specific items, such as a particular asset or equal parenting time. Whatever your goal, there is an attorney who specializes in it.

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Illinois parenting plan attorneysWhen parents divorce, they must prioritize what is best for their children. More often than not, this means that each parent should stay emotionally and physically involved in their child’s day-to-day life. How do you do that while living in separate households? In most cases, the details are outlined in a document known as a parenting plan

What is a Parenting Plan?

Parenting plans are legal court documents that are used to outline each parent’s roles and responsibilities as it pertains to meeting the needs of their child. 

What is Included in a Parenting Plan? 

Parenting plans cover more than just parenting time allotment. Designed to address all the needs of a child during the divorce, parenting plans cover a host of child-related issues, including:

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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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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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Wheaton parenting time lawyersThe process of divorce can be messy, especially when children are involved. Fueled by a desire to ease the transition for their children, many parents are turning to “birdnesting,” a process in which the children stay in the family home and the parents take turns living there. Some say this gives children a more stable environment while the parents trudge through the legal process of divorce, but does it really work? 

Data Regarding Birdnesting is Limited 

Child development experts, healthcare professionals, psychologists, and other child specialists have been compiling and examining data on the impact that divorce has on children for decades now. Because of that, we now know that divorce is not necessarily what hurts children as much as it is the nature of the proceedings. Yet, when it comes to birdnesting, data is still sorely lacking. Quite simply, this divorce strategy has not been around long enough to determine, for sure, that it is beneficial to children during the divorce process. 

Many Families Swear by the Birdnesting Method

Although the birdnesting process lacks any hard data, many families are singing its praises. They claim that their children seem to be more grounded, even if they themselves are struggling to cope with the process. Many of these families also continue on with their regular traditions, such as family dinner nights. These families claim that their children seem to feel more secure in the love that both parents have with them. Moreover, parents say that their birdnesting arrangement is a strong jumping point for the co-parenting relationship ahead. 

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Wheaton family law lawyersFamily law is a broad area of the law with many subsections. However, some issues are more common and complex than others. Learn more about the most common and currently emerging family law courts, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton attorneys can help you manage them and mitigate against any complications that you may be facing in your Illinois family law case. 

Divorce and Legal Separation 

Statistics indicate that the divorce rate has been dropping over the last several years, but it continues to be one of the more common family law matters, both in Illinois and nationwide. Legal separations, though less common than divorce and perhaps even some other family law issues, are also frequently seen issues in family courts.

Child-Related Matters

Child matters are also extremely common in family courts. They include:

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Illinoia family law attorneysPeople do not typically marry with the intention of one day divorcing, but those who have already experienced a failed marriage may be even more adamant to grow old with their new partner. Sadly, the risk of divorce is significantly higher for subsequent marriages. As such, it is highly recommended that parties take proactive steps to protect their assets in a second marriage. Learn more about how a prenuptial agreement can help you do this, and discover how our seasoned family law attorneys can help. 

Know Your Wealth and Assets

Just as it is critical to know your wealth and assets in a divorce, you should know them going into a marriage. Not only does this give you a base to work from in the event of a divorce, but it also enables you to effectively and proactively protect your wealth, long before a divorce occurs. 

Never Enter a Second Marriage Without a Prenuptial Agreement

If you did not sign a prenuptial agreement before your first marriage, it is likely you know just how messy dividing assets in a divorce can be. When you add in the fact that may divorcees also have children from their previous marriage, perhaps even child support and spousal support obligations, the importance of protecting one’s assets in a second marriage becomes even more crucial. One of the most effective ways to do this is to ensure you have a sound and concise prenuptial agreement before you marry a second time. 

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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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DuPage County parenting time attorneysHolidays can be a stressful time for anyone, but for blended families, the season can be especially trying. There are additional challenges that come with an increasing and revolving number of faces, such as multiple or various family schedules and changing or canceled plans. Thankfully, there are some strategies that blended families can use to minimize stress and encourage bonding and a happier holiday season. 

1. Develop a Plan and Discuss It with the Kids

Even though holiday plans can (and often do) change, it is important for your family to start with a framework. It can give you guidance and allow you to block out time more efficiently. When events conflict, work hard to come up with a compromise. 

Realize that, above all else, what everyone truly wants is for the children to enjoy the holiday season as much as possible. Family times, such as when grandparents are in town, are good to prioritize, as are any holiday traditions that can still be carried out, even after the massive changes of divorce (i.e. purchasing a living tree and then planting it at the end of the season). 

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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 domestic violence lawyersAbusive partners have always used methods of control against their victims, but with the latest advancements in technology, they have more tools at their disposal. The abuse of “smart home” devices and cell phones are just two examples that are cropping up in divorces around the nation. Thankfully, victims can protect themselves from a technologically savvy abusive spouse. Learn more in the following sections, including how a seasoned Illinois divorce lawyer can provide victims yet another layer of protection while they are seeking a divorce or separation. 

Abuse Using “Smart Homes” and Other Advanced Technology

While technology abuse may not seem like much of a threat, the truth is that perpetrators are using advanced devices like smart home systems to make the lives of their victims unbearable. For example, they may remotely turn the lights off and on, or they may turn up the heater to an unbearable temperature. Unfortunately, when victims try to explain the abuse, law enforcement and other officials may dismiss their claims as “crazy” or petty.

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