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Should you alter the custody arrangements as your children grow?

 Posted on April 05, 2022 in Child Custody

The aim of a custody arrangement is to do what is in the child’s best interest. The needs of a child still in diapers will be very different from one in high school.

The general rule is that a custody agreement should allow the child to maintain regular contact with both parents. Yet, how they do that can vary.

For a baby, it means spending physical time together. On the other hand, teenagers may be able to achieve much of their contact with you through their phones. Many of them spend most of their time talking to their friends online anyway, so not seeing one parent so much face to face will likely be less of a big deal than for someone younger.

The older your children get, the less of a role you play

This is not to say you become unimportant to your children. They still need you. Yet if you think back to when you were a teenager, how much time did you really want to spend with your parents?

You probably preferred to hang out with your mates, or girlfriend or boyfriend. Or to be at sports practice or earning money at a part-time job. The only times you saw your parents might have been at breakfast, when you came home at night, and when they forced you to go with them to visit your gran in the nursing home.

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Can a teenager refuse to follow the parenting plan?

 Posted on March 30, 2022 in Child Custody

When parents divorce, they have to figure out an appropriate way to share parental rights and responsibilities. The exact division of parenting time that they have may be the result of direct negotiations with one another or litigation.

In either case, once the courts approve a custody order, both adults must do their best to uphold it. As the children in the family get older, that could be more difficult to do. Teenagers often resent the idea of forced custody or visitation with either parent, as they would rather control their own schedule and spend time online or with their friends.

Can your teenage children refuse to comply with the custody schedule you have established?

Teenage rebellion can lead to enforcement actions

If your teenager says that they won't go for a visit, you might allow them to cancel once or twice. However, once it becomes a pattern, the situation can start to look like parental alienation. Your ex could potentially go to court and ask for custody enforcement because they have not gotten their parenting time.

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Don’t make mistakes with your bank account during divorce

 Posted on March 23, 2022 in Divorce

If you're getting divorced, you probably want to start a new bank account. If you're still working, for instance, you don't want all of your checks going into your joint bank account with your spouse. Divorce can take a few months, so it could be a substantial amount of money.

Opening a new account for these paychecks is wise, but make sure that you don't make any errors that may make it appear that you're trying to do something illegal. In some cases, people make mistakes that lead the court to believe they're trying to hide assets.

Closing down your joint bank account

For instance, you may think that it's a good idea to take the money out of your joint bank account and close it. Then you can start a personal bank account and so can your spouse. This keeps the money separate and there's no confusion.

If you have not split the money from your joint account with your spouse, though, it may appear that you're trying to steal those assets and hide them in your own account. Your spouse may also be frustrated by being cut off from money that they need to go through the divorce process. Remember that money in a joint bank account is owned by both of you. While you may want to close that account eventually, don't do it too soon and make yourself appear to be taking advantage of the situation.

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Will you pay alimony for life in Illinois?

 Posted on March 18, 2022 in Alimony

Alimony is one of those things you might be left to deal with after the dissolution of your marriage. If you were the higher earner in the marriage, you may have to give your ex-spouse financial support for their maintenance. It ensures that your former spouse will continue living the life they were accustomed to during the marriage.

The amount of alimony that you will be paying your spouse depends on several factors, including:

  • The length of your marriage
  • The living standards during the marriage
  • The disparity of income between you and your ex
  • Your ex-spouse's age and physical health
  • Any existing legal agreements like prenups, among others

So how long will you keep paying up?

It depends on how long you have been married

Ideally, it would not make sense to pay alimony for a longer period than the actual marriage. Under Illinois law, the duration of spousal support is directly related to how long the marriage lasted.

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How to tell your adult children that you’re divorcing

 Posted on March 12, 2022 in Divorce

Telling your adult children that you are divorcing needs to be done with care. They may be adults, but you are still mom and dad to them. No matter what their ages are, your divorce is bound to be painful for them.

When it comes to breaking the news, it’s important that both parents be there. Beforehand, you and your spouse should decide what you’ll say together. Handle the discussion with the same care and sensitivity that you would with young children.

What to say

Understand that your children may be upset or even angry. They’ve always seen you and your spouse as a unit. Respect their feelings and answer their questions as best you can. Make sure they know that:

  • You will always love them. Even adult children need this reassurance. They may even feel guilt over your divorce, just like a younger child, if they think you were staying together in an unhappy marriage to raise them.
  • No one is to blame. This is not the time to throw your spouse under the bus. If you assign blame, your children may feel like they're stuck in the middle and have to choose sides. Be as diplomatic as possible with the understanding that your children love both of you.

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Do you have a conflict resolution plan with your co-parent?

 Posted on March 03, 2022 in Child Custody

Parenting plans can be basic and streamlined, or they can be very detailed and thorough. The relationship you currently have with your co-parent will have a strong influence on the way that you structure your parenting plan. You may include many rules, or you may leave things broad to allow for interpretation as circumstances change.

Whether the two of you get along well or you struggle to communicate calmly, you will eventually have a serious disagreement about your parental responsibilities or what is best for the children. Adding a conflict resolution system to your parenting plan can help you prevent such circumstances from derailing your custody arrangement.

How do you plan for future conflict?

Given that conflict is all but inevitable when sharing parental responsibilities, it's good to have a plan in place to reolve the dispute quickly and amicably. You can use what you know about each other to preserve your relationship.

The two of you are already be familiar with each other's communication styles and priorities. You may be able to reasonably predict when a conflict might arrive or how it will unfold. You could put rules in place to help you address disagreements quickly.

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Do divorced couples ever get back together?

 Posted on February 24, 2022 in Divorce

You may have heard that half of all marriages end in divorce. Just how accurate this statistic is, no matter how often it's repeated, is a bit suspect. But the truth is still that many marriages will end in divorce.

What you may be wondering is if any of these couples ever think they made a mistake and decide to get back together after the fact. After all, this is a plot point in many movies and it's something that people often consider if they were not the ones to file for divorce.

This almost never happens

This has certainly happened in some cases, but the odds are stacked heavily against it. One study determined that it only occurred in about 6% of cases. It almost never happens, and you should certainly not count on it.

This may be important to keep in mind during the divorce process, as it can impact some of the decisions that you make. For instance, hoping that your ex will eventually want to get back together with you, you may be tempted to give them more of the family assets than they deserve or to allow them to control the child custody agreement. But these are binding agreements that you have to adhere to, even after years go by and you realize that the relationship is not coming back.

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Can you keep your house after your divorce?

 Posted on February 18, 2022 in Divorce

If your spouse has asked for a divorce or you have decided that now is the time to end your marriage, one thing you should consider is what to do with your home. It may be that you would both like to keep the marital home, or you may be the only one who is interested in maintaining the property.

Whatever the circumstances may be, it’s not enough to just say that you want the home. You will also need to be sure that you have the financial support needed to maintain your home and the ability to buy out your spouse’s share (if necessary).

Knowing your home’s value matters during divorce

The first thing to do is to get to know your home’s value. If it is worth $300,000 and you’ve paid off $50,000 of that debt, you will need to assess how to address the $250,000 still owed as well as the $50,000 in equity. You should determine the value of the home with an appraisal, so you know exactly how much you could expect if you were to sell it.

Then, you will be able to determine what an equitable share of the property is. If you and your spouse have decided to split your assets 50-50, then you’ll know that around $150,000 of that property’s value would be yours and around $150,000 would be theirs. You may need to pay them that share to take full ownership or use other assets to offset keeping the home.

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3 behaviors that may be dissipation of your marital assets

 Posted on February 17, 2022 in High Asset Divorce

In an Illinois divorce, spouses need to split their property or ask a judge to divide their assets. The equitable distribution rule that applies in litigated divorces requires that a judge split your property and debts in a fair manner based on your current circumstances. Your health, the length of your marriage and even financial misconduct can influence how the courts split your property.

In cases of provable dissipation by one spouse, the other could ask for compensation for that misconduct. What kinds of behaviors might be dissipation of your marital assets?

Spending for selfish purposes right before or after filing

A pattern of spending consistent with someone's behavior during the marriage would not likely constitute dissipation.

However, if someone starts spending far more than usual and for frivolous, selfish reasons, their four-figures spa day or name-brand shopping spree might constitute marital dissipation. Any wasteful spending that benefits an individual and not the family might constitute dissipation.

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Tips for leaving an abusive marriage

 Posted on February 11, 2022 in Domestic Violence

An abusive marriage is a tragedy for many people. Some individuals might have a warning that things are going bad and will have time to plan for their departure. Others don’t have that time because things escalate quickly.

One thing to remember is that there isn’t any amount of physical violence that’s safe. If you’re in an unsafe marriage, be sure that you protect your life and your children. This could mean that you need to leave in a rush and head to a shelter where they can help to hide you from your abuser.

Gather documents

You need to have some basic documents when you leave. Your photo identification, Social Security card, and birth certificate are some necessary documents. You should also get what you can for the children if you have any. If there are documents that you think you might need, such as bank statements, make copies or take pictures if you’re worried that your partner will notice they’re gone.

Think about finances

Most abusive marriages come with financial abuse. You have to have a way to support yourself. If you have time, start an account to save money. You may even be able to take care of initial expenses by using your credit card. The key to finances is that you should be the only person on the account.

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