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Chicago Illinois Family Law Blog

How parent's home influences custody decisions

A parent's living situation plays a role in the decisions that courts make about child custody. For parents in Illinois, the concern might be about what aspects of home and living situation courts consider before making decisions.

While the court's considerations vary from state to state, most courts will look at the age and gender of the child, their ability to adapt to different circumstances, the size of a parent's family as well as the parent's particular situation when making judgments about child custody. A child's age and gender are important when thinking about where the child will stay and if the child will have enough privacy in the home of a parent of the opposite sex. The size of the parent's family and the number of other siblings are considered when looking at living situations, particularly because a parent with multiple children might not have a private space for the child to stay in. Courts will also look at how easily the child adapts to different situations and what the impact of a move will have on the child.

Coparenting can be collaborative or parallel

Illinois parents headed for divorce are generally most concerned about child custody arrangements. The best parenting arrangements are collaborative and encourage as much communication as possible between the parties. Unfortunately, this can be quite counterproductive when there is a high degree of acrimony between the parties. If parents simply cannot interact without causing stress to their children, a parallel parenting plan may be the best option for everyone considered.

In a parallel parenting agreement, the parties agree to a plan that meticulously accommodates as many contingencies as possible under the guidance of family law professionals such as attorneys and mediators. The goal is to limit interactions between the parties to coordinating logistics involving the children in a predetermined manner. Typically, email is the preferred mode of communication, and messages are businesslike and formal. The parties must give up the notion of controlling or being involved in activities while the children are in custody of the other parent. For many, this can be liberating, but it is abundantly stressful for others. Whatever the frustration level is for a parent, acceptance of the reality is mandatory unless he or she wishes to run afoul of the courts.

Prenuptial agreements are not only for the wealthy

Celebrity couples and those from wealthy families attract a great deal of attention, especially when they announce their nuptials. Speculation often surrounds the question of how long the marriage will last. Along those lines, rumors often swirl regarding prenuptial agreements. However, these days, a regular Illinois couple may be just as likely as a famous couple to establish a prenup.

In recent years, legal experts have reported a greater than 50 percent increase in prenups. This is not necessarily reflective of increased resources between couples. Instead, it's more a recognition that they may be entering into a marriage with something of value to them. This can be something as seemingly benign as a pet, but it could also be something that will take on increased value during the marriage.

Making your divorce announcement during the holidays

The holiday seasons are approaching, and you and your spouse are talking about divorce. Do you put on a happy face for family gatherings or announce the news in person while everyone is in one spot?

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind if you're thinking of making your divorce announcement over the holidays.

How parents can help kids stay happy after divorce

Parents in Illinois might worry about how divorce will affect their children. While a family separation can be challenging, it is possible to build a child's resilience and help them through the process.

The first step for parents is to try to maintain as much consistency as possible with the children. The changes from divorce can be overwhelming, but keeping other parts of the children's lives stable can help them process these changes. If parents agree on expectations even if they have different approaches to parenting, they can help maintain this stability. Ex-spouses should try to avoid criticizing each other's decisions and putting the kids in the middle of a conflict.

Certain personality traits can lead to divorce

The unfortunate truth is that most Illinois couples are at risk for eventually separating. In partnerships where certain personality traits are strong, however, the risk for divorce is a lot higher. According to some psychologists, therapists, divorce lawyers and other experts with experience in divorces, there are seven specific personality characteristics that can increase the chance of a relationship ending.

One of these personality traits is known as catastrophizing. This is when one or both partners turn tiny disagreements into much bigger issues. One divorce lawyer from Illinois reported that he had a client file for divorce simply because her husband forgot to take out the trash. The opposite personality trait to this is argument avoidance, but it can be just as destructive. This is when a partner bottles up problems instead of trying to resolve them.

Handling divorce close to retirement

Illinois residents can face challenges during divorce whether they are younger and have children or are just a few years away from retirement. For individuals who are age 50 and over, the divorce rate has doubled since 1990 according to data from the Pew Research Center. This is despite the fact that divorce rates have been declining overall. If a person is going through a divorce, it is important to manage money carefully.

This means not buying a house or other expensive items before, during or after the divorce proceeding. Instead, it is a good idea to create a budget that will allow a person to live a stable lifestyle now and many years into the future. It is also a good idea to work with a financial adviser who can help an older person prepare for retirement after his or her marriage has come to an end.

Retirement and pensions subject to split in Illinois divorces

You and your spouse decide to divorce, but you worry about how a judge will split your assets. Even before you married your spouse, you began a career that established a successful future pension plan. Now that you and your spouse wish to separate, you are concerned about the division of the pension agreement.

Illinois operates under the law of equitable distribution when dividing assets during a divorce. Equitable distribution allows a judge to look at many aspects of your marriage and determine a fair, yet generally equal split of property. Included in this property are retirement accounts and pension plans.

It’s illegal to leave Illinois with your child after a divorce

Your divorce has finally been finalized. A difficult, emotional chapter of your life has just ended, and a new future is waiting for you and your child. Be careful when making plans, though. Unless you’ve been awarded sole legal and physical custody, there is a good chance that moving out of Illinois with your child is currently illegal.

Whether you’re interested in the fresh start that comes with a new location, are seeking a new career position or have personal reasons for wanting to leave the state, know that you will need court approval to do so.

The pros and cons of sole custody

Parents in Illinois and elsewhere may ask for sole physical custody of their children after a divorce. This means that the child will live with one parent more than half of the time. One of the benefits of this arrangement is that it minimizes the potential interruption to a child's life. As a general rule, the child gets to stay close to friends and remain in the same school.

This can provide a sense of stability in what may otherwise be a turbulent period in a young person's life. Parents and children also avoid having to constantly bring clothes, books and other belongings to a separate house on a regular basis. However, this may not always be in a son or daughter's best interest. While the noncustodial parent generally gets visitation rights, it may not feel like enough time for the parent and child to spend together.

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