Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyAs a parent undergoing divorce, you have your work cut out for you. Not only do you need to address the legal technicalities of the split in the midst of experiencing the grieving process, you also need to tackle all the issues that accompany the end of a marriage, including everything from the division of assets and parenting time (visitation), to parenting plans and inventory of your personal finances. For the stay-at-home parent, divorce requires a complete lifestyle overhaul, which can trigger a number of concerns for the spouse who has been the primary caregiver at home.

Safeguarding Your Rights as a Stay-at-Home Parent

The idea that the stay-at-home parent will be able to continue to live the lifestyle they were originally accustomed to prior to the divorce is sadly not always a realistic one. While there are laws that vary from state to state that allow certain protections for the stay-at-home spouse, the parent’s lifestyle will inevitably change as their financial circumstances evolve due to the divorce. Parents used to staying home to raise their children can still make the effort to safeguard their rights during the transition in the following ways:

Explore the possibility of maintenance - Here in the state of Illinois, the law may entitle you to maintenance (alimony), which is sometimes awarded to account for a significant difference in income and earnings between spouses. The amount you may be eligible for and the length of time you may receive the award is determined by a mathematical formula and factors summarized in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/504). The court will look at everything from the current and future earning capacity of each spouse, joint property and assets, and the needs of each spouse, to the standard of living that was established during the marriage and how long the union lasted. Exploring your eligibility for maintenance can help you plan, prepare, and protect your financial well-being

Assess your assets - In order to protect your livelihood after your divorce, you need to first get a clear snapshot of what your finances currently look like. This will help you gauge what you are walking into after the divorce, and help you know what needs to be addressed when consulting with your attorney. Take stock of everything from your mortgage and car title to basic monthly expenses and debts, and also jot down any potential employment options as well as educational pursuits you may explore, which may incur additional expenses on your behalf.

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois custody lawyerThere are countless aspects surrounding the divorce experience that parents are faced with when raising children throughout the separation process. Studies show that children are especially prone to the negative psychological effects that accompany the end of their parents’ marriage, due to the fact that they are still developing and learning to process - and cope with - rapidly changing emotions and circumstances. It is understandable, then, how something as anxiety-inducing as moving during or shortly after divorce can trigger a significant psychological struggle for children.

Moving and Divorce: A Psychological Toll

Recent divorce law changes in the state of Illinois now allow the primary residential parent to relocate with their child after divorce, as long as the move is made within a 25-mile radius. Because of this new guideline, that 25-mile radius can actually mean a jump over the state line, depending on which county you live in. Whether you are moving one neighborhood away or using up those permissible 25 miles, studies indicate that moving after divorce can be unsettling for children and can reap long-term psychological effects.

What Studies Suggest

The American Psychological Association (APA) reported studies that were conducted among students from an array of relocation scenarios, including subsets of students who experienced their primary (custodial) parent moving after divorce, and students who experienced no parental relocation at all. In general, the students of divorced families who relocated on some level were found to suffer more distress and perceive their parents in a less favorable light over the long term. Additionally, the students of divorced parents who relocated also experienced less life satisfaction and rated their physical and mental health poorly over time. They also felt more anger and hostility within their interpersonal relationships.

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Posted on in Child Support

Illinois family law attorney, Illinois child support lawyerBeing hit with the realization that you may be responsible for college expenses for your child on your own following your divorce can be an unsettling experience, especially when there are already so many other financial issues that must be addressed at the end of the marriage. Often, who will pay for your child’s college tuition is the very last thing on your mind in the midst of a separation. Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can properly prepare to fund your child’s college education after you are divorced, beginning with tackling the subject in your divorce decree.

Law Changes that Affect College Financial Responsibility after Divorce

Since 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has evolved to clarify which costs actually qualify as expenses in the state of Illinois, and how those expenses should be handled between divorce parties in a court of law. For example, the newer version of the law includes the cost of up to five college applications in its educational expense standards, and puts a stop to any contributions made to college expenses when the student turns twenty-three years old, with certain exceptions, which must be deemed “good cause”. This means if you are required to contribute to college costs for your non-minor child, the expenses will be justified and limited.

What You Can Do

To ensure your child’s college costs are taken care of once your divorce is finalized, the work ideally begins before you begin the divorce process. This means addressing the issue early on in the decree with a clear, written agreement that takes a number of factors into account, including who will pay for what and at what time, as well as who will pay for the pre-college expenses that are incurred. These things can include standardized test courses and any relevant purchases, like books or other class supplies. Sit down with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and make a list of everything you expect, along with any concerns you have about the arrangement.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerIf you and your spouse find yourselves in the midst of separating, you, like many couples, may be pondering the advantages and disadvantages of legal separation before divorce. Legal separation serves to outline the rights and responsibilities of each spouse when they are living apart, but are not yet divorced. Living apart for a period of time can be helpful for the couple who wants to try a trial separation before making the decision to call it quits, but doing so can bring about certain financial risks if not addressed properly early on.

Making It Official

If you choose to go the trial separation route, there are certain stipulations that must be met in order to make the separation official by law. Ensuring your separation is legal will help prevent any potential financial risks associated with living apart before you divorce.

The following three main requirements must be met in order to legally separate in the state of Illinois:

1. Make a petition - A petition must be filed with the Clerk of Court requesting the separation and the petition must be served to the other marriage partner. From there, the partner being served must respond to the petition to continue the process, and they have the right to present any defense against the petition at this time.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_money-issues.jpgMultiple studies conducted by various experts, over many decades, have revealed the sad truth that serious financial trouble is an overwhelming predictor for separation and divorce for couples around the globe. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports a number of studies that have proven the stress brought on by financial struggle can cause even the strongest relationships to fall apart, making it crucial for everyone, regardless of their income level or line of work, to address their money management habits early on in a marriage.

Clashing Money Management Styles

Looking at the way you and your spouse spend, save, and budget money before the marriage and in the early stages of your union can make a significant difference in how well your relationship fares over time. This is especially important when you and your spouse experience additional stressors throughout the course of your marriage, adding more pressure to the existing tension. Such issues can increase the number of arguments between you and your spouse, and ultimately affect the longevity of your relationship.

Financial tension between a couple typically begins when each spouse manages money differently, particularly when poor spending habits are present. This can include consistent loans and high revolving lines of credit, or simply a penchant for expensive things that are not affordable, given an individual’s income. When one partner’s monthly debt is higher than the amount they take home each month, these problems eventually rise to the surface during the marriage and continue to be a source of conflict over time.

Preventing Financial Stress from Wreaking Havoc on Your Marriage

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b2ap3_thumbnail_prenup.jpgAlthough the subject of prenuptial agreements spark ongoing controversy, the reality is such agreements can offer a range of benefits for both parties involved, should a divorce ever take place. When both parties are open and willing to discuss the potential advantages of arranging a prenup, the outcome can bring great peace of mind and provide a clear, organized game plan in the event the marriage comes to an end.

Key Areas to Address

The purpose of a prenup is to prepare for the management and protection of your assets, especially in the event that you and your spouse have difficulty agreeing on the division of those assets during a divorce. Due to the important nature of the agreement, it is crucial to identify which areas require attention as you begin the process of creating the contract. Some areas every couple needs to address include the following:

Debts - The reason for talking about debts with your future spouse is twofold; you both need to know about any existing financial obligations, and you both will also benefit from being transparent regarding any debts that are in your name before you tie the knot. Make a list of everything, including personal and bank-acquired loans, as well as any debts that may currently be in collections.

Assets - Assets are just as important to discuss as debts, as the subject of marital property can be a touchy one when a marriage doesn’t work out. You need to be clear on what you will do with any property or assets you acquire once you both are married. Should you divorce, will you split those belongings 50/50? If not, discuss any alternative options.

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyWith the multiple issues that must be addressed during the divorce process, it is understandable that tackling the subject of your child’s future college expenses can feel overwhelming, especially when such educational concerns are not immediate. Preparing to fund an education set to take place in the very distant future may not be the first priority on your list while going through a divorce, but it is still an important task when it comes to securing the proper financial means for your child to expand their education down the road.

Who Is Responsible After the Split?

In many states across the nation, Illinois included, courts recognize a child’s need for a college education. This means the courts may have the right to order one or both parties in the divorce to pay for an array of college expenses for the child they share together. They may do this by tapping into the property and income of each parent, or even through the estate of a deceased parent. The law requires the petition for these funds to be raised within a certain timeframe: No later than the child’s 23rd birthday, and no later than their 25th birthday.

Similar to awarding child support values, the amounts the court may order one (or both) of the parties to pay toward a child’s college expenses greatly depend on the circumstances, and the agreement must be negotiated. The court will take many factors into consideration before determining a certain amount. For example, at the time of the hearing, the party’s financial resources will be taken into account. The court may even look at a new spouse’s income. Say you remarry not long after your divorce and begin petitioning for financial help from your ex for your child’s college costs. If your new spouse makes a significant amount of money that raises your overall income considerably, the court may add that hike in income to the equation. So, the question of who is responsible for your child’s college costs will ultimately depend on a combination of these factors.

Which Expenses Count?

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerAlthough divorce is extremely common and many couples go through mutual, civil splits that result in healthier, happier lifestyles, the experience itself is never something we hope for as we begin the marriage journey. Sadly, many marriages fall apart due to a number of external and personal reasons, many of which are at times simply out of our control. According to the American Psychological Association, various psychological studies reveal that stress due to such factors can cause even the strongest relationships to unravel.

Factors that Contribute to Marital Dissatisfaction

Findings from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) report that women have a 52 percent chance of making it to their 20th wedding anniversary, while men have a 56 percent chance. With odds like these, how do we know which marriages will survive and which ones won’t make the cut? Studies show that the answer to this question is rooted deeply in our behavioral patterns. How we fight, communicate, and address conflict all contribute to the chances of our marriage working out.

Psychological studies show us that three particular sources of marital dissatisfaction commonly lead to divorce:

1. Financial Strain 

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyAs we work through the everyday bumps that come with navigating a relationship, it can be difficult to recognize whether the problems we face are typical roadblocks that every couple experiences - those that can be overcome with time and effort- or whether those problems are indicators of much larger issues that can lead to divorce. It is typically these larger, foundational conflicts that create greater risk for potential separation down the road.

Cold Feet or Something More?

According to the American Psychological Association, up to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, making it apparent that the odds don’t always end in every couple’s favor when it comes to marital longevity. Being able to recognize the signs that indicate trouble early on can go a long way in addressing and managing any existing or looming problems that may eventually lead to separation.

Here are four common predictors of divorce, according to the APA:

1. Cold Feet

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b2ap3_thumbnail_children-divorce.jpgNavigating the adjustment period after a divorce is a challenge for everyone at the end of a marriage. Depending on the level of tension and conflict in the relationship, the final unraveling of the union has the potential to wreak a significant amount of emotional damage on each party, and it is only natural for even the most peaceful splits to leave some sort of emotional scarring by the time the divorce is official.

The Psychological Effects

The psychological effects of divorce are just as impactful for children, and in some cases, even more so. This is due in part to the critical developmental periods children go through, such as the early teen years, when their minds and bodies are changing rapidly and drastically. The American Psychological Association reports research that indicates children from divorce tend to experience less financial security and have lower academic achievement, tend to drink and smoke more, and have a harder time finding and keeping jobs.

Factors that Play a Role in Healthy Adjustment

Despite these common negative post-divorce effects, studies reported by the APA still show that resilience, rather than dysfunction, is often the outcome for many children of divorce. There are a number of factors that play a role in promoting healthy post-divorce adjustment. The APA reveals that the following key factors are particularly influential:

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois child custody lawyerThe list of responsibilities to be addressed following a family’s separation is vast. When you have decided to divorce, everything from your finances, routines, and overall lifestyle must be re-evaluated to accommodate the circumstances surrounding your post-divorce life. One important area that requires a significant learning curve for both spouses is parenting. If you and your spouse share a child, the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation) must be addressed, including a thorough parenting plan that ensures a healthy transition for the child.

The Relocation Factor

If either parent is planning to relocate shortly after the divorce, both parents are presented with a new set of challenges as the family wades through the transition. Separation is already rife with obstacles and requires multiple emotional, mental, and physical adjustments for everyone involved, but parental relocation can add additional stress to the mix. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports a study from the Journal of Family Psychology that found the following regarding the effects of relocation after divorce on children:

  • Children are significantly less well-off after divorce when their parent moves more than a one-hour drive away;
  • Children from families in which one parent relocates after divorce typically receive less financial support from their parents and worry more about the lack of support;
  • Feelings of greater hostility in interpersonal relationships were reported in children from divorced families who experienced the relocation of a parent afterward. There were also reports of more overall distress from the divorce experience;
  • General dissatisfaction in personal, physical, and emotional adjustments was reported; and
  • Children of parents who relocated after divorce were found to have more negative perceptions of their parents, with less favorable views of them as role models and reliable sources for emotional support.

The authors responsible for these studies emphasized that additional research is still needed, pointing out the possibility that other factors may also contribute to the findings, such as any existing, unresolved pre-move conflict between the parents.

If you are in the beginning stages of the divorce process and have discussed potential relocation after the separation with your spouse, speak with a knowledgeable Kane County divorce attorney right away to set your family up for a seamless transition. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-206-3300 for a personal consultation.

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyUndoubtedly, when couples decide to file for divorce, two of the most emotionally and mentally draining topics that arise following the decision are the division of property and child custody arrangements. If a couple shares a child, the stress of arranging parenting time is only compounded when the subject of dividing belongings is added to the mix. Everything combined calls for multiple lifestyle changes at once, creating a number of inevitable emotional landmines for everyone involved.

Priorities and Perspectives When Dividing Property

When it comes to dividing property, deciding who gets what after the divorce can be particularly distressing due to the finality that surrounds the task. Splitting belongings is the final step in ending a life that was once shared and beginning a new one, making it an overwhelming, burdensome chore for both parties.

According to studies reported by the American Psychological Association, the moment couples begin weighing the division of property in preparation for a settlement, they approach the subject with different perspectives. These differences ultimately determine their priorities, which often clash when it is time to meet with a mediator or attorney. Studies have shown the following differences between men and women when it is time to negotiate property division:

  • Women tend to focus more on interpersonal goals;
  • Task-specific goals are more typically the focal point for men;
  • Women are more concerned about their relationships with others than men are;
  • Women are more leery of risk at the end of marriage, which may suggest they are more likely to accept smaller settlements; and
  • Women are also more likely to forego monetary benefits than men are due to their cautious nature when it comes to settlements.

Along with these notable differences between men and women regarding their approach to settlement negotiations, other important research indicates there is a general perception of higher value placed on belongings that a party owns personally. For example, a husband or wife may feel less concerned about losing a particular joint savings account versus a brand new car that they personally purchased and placed in their name.

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Posted on in Child Support

Illinois child support laws, Illinois family law attorneyUndergoing divorce can be a taxing experience for everyone involved, and adding the task of arranging child support obligations to the mix inevitably adds more pressure to both parents. Under even the most civil of circumstances, it is easy for parents to take offense to the other’s reaction to child support payments, and for the obligated parent to feel burdened by the financial strain the support order entails. Once a proper support order is established, however, there is opportunity for everything to run effectively and efficiently, so long as each party cooperates.

The parent who is granted a majority of the parenting time is usually the parent awarded child support payments. If you are a non-custodial parent responsible for making child support payments, the state of Illinois provides you the following options to ensure you are able to pay on time and in full:

Pay the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) by Mail

Unless you are directed otherwise, you are obligated to pay support via check by sending payment directly to the Illinois State Disbursement Unit. You are required to provide the following details along with your payment: Your name, social security number, case number, and the Illinois court where the order was entered.

Electronic Payments

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyThere is nothing easy about the process of blending families after divorce, but thankfully the task is possible with the right approach, direction, and support. Today, more than ever, divorce rates continually illuminate the reality that for many couples,the challenge to merge families after remarriage is incredibly common. Countless people must find ways to come together and recreate their lives post-divorce with their existing children, as well as adjust to any new additions to the family.

Setting Up for Success

As you and your family begin to immerse yourself in a new routine and lifestyle, The American Psychological Association suggests the following to help ensure a healthy transition as you work to blend both families together:

Be clear about financial and living arrangements - Between the time after divorce and a new marriage or live-in partnership, individuals establish their own new routines and practices, including how they handle money and where they choose to live. Once a new marriage is imminent or a new partner is about to move in, those key areas must be revisited and reevaluated. This is especially important when children are involved. The APA encourages adults to discuss and plan how they will spend their money and what their living arrangements will be beforehand, in order to prepare the entire family for any impending changes.

Be patient with new parenting integration - Becoming a parent to your new partner’s child is intimidating, but the key is to take things slow. Do not force yourself on the child. Instead of attempting to assume an instant parental role, first try to become a friend or mentor. The APA has reported research that reveals that adolescents between the ages of 10 and 14 tend to have the most difficult time adjusting to new stepfamilies. Research has also shown that children prefer to have verbal affection rather than physical closeness from their new stepparent. Compliments are much better received than hugs or kisses.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyWhile countless studies have shown that life following a divorce often leads to higher depression rates, more stress, and overall dissatisfaction, those who spend a prolonged period of time in an unhappy marriage to begin with tend to thrive once the marriage is over. Experts have a number of theories for this, most notably the idea that the benefits of leaving behind an emotionally exhausting (and in many cases, emotionally or physically abusive) marriage usually end up outweighing the disadvantages.

Increasing Your Chances of Success

Examining the overall quality of a marriage before calling it quits is important in the overall outcome for each party. Once you’ve decided it is in your best interest to end the marriage, there are certain steps you can take to increase your chances of enjoying a fulfilling, balanced post-divorce life. Channel your energy into the following three areas after the split to ensure a healthier, happier lifestyle:

Finances - Although the divorce process is undeniably an emotional struggle, it can also be incredibly challenging where your finances are concerned. Spending adequate time doing an evaluation of your money matters prior to the divorce and directly afterward can make a world of difference in the quality of your life once the separation is official. This is an important step in creating a secure financial foundation for your future. Do your best to assess debts, a savings goal if your existing savings plan is minimal or nonexistent, and work with a professional attorney to understand the value of your assets.

Family Plans - Divorce can be especially traumatizing for children in the family, which is why it is so important to talk about, create, and follow through with a proper parenting plan once the divorce is final. You can reduce your stress and your child’s stress by establishing routines, making time for fun quality time, and ensuring everyone understands visitation arrangements.

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Illinois child support lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyFor many divorced parents, arranging a child support order can be a challenging process. While state programs and public assistance offer a reasonable amount of help, parents can often be at a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining an order and ensuring the payment conditions are met. This is especially the case for high-conflict couples who struggle with communication, anger, and hurt following their divorce. It can be difficult for the custodial parent to know where to turn as they pursue child support, especially when they are unfamiliar or confused about the laws that surround it, and the non-custodial parent can feel overwhelmed and unclear on the control and distribution of their funds.

When Are You Eligible to Request Modifications to an Existing Order?

Once you have done all the footwork and have secured a proper child support order, you may find you need to make changes to that existing order, depending on a number of different circumstances. The court usually looks at two factors in particular when determining whether or not your order is eligible for modification:

  • Non-custodial parent income changes - In most cases, you can request a modification review if the non-custodial parent’s income has significantly increased or decreased. The revised order can reflect the changes in income and any other financial factors that may have changed since the original order went into effect. In general, families who receive public assistance typically receive a modification review every three years. If the supporting parent has lost their job or received a substantial raise, their order may be decreased or increased; and
  • Availability of health insurance - Along with financial changes, health insurance changes will be considered when determining whether or not a child support order can be modified. For example, if there is a health insurance lapse due to a gap in employment or financial hardship, the court may consider these factors. Any change in medical coverage that will affect the child’s medical care should be addressed and reflected in the support order.

General Modification Procedures

The process for changing your child support order may vary depending on whether you are working directly through the Illinois child support program or with a private attorney. Your order may be changed via judicial process or administrative process. Generally speaking, the state will conduct a review and may apply a cost-of-living adjustment. To identify which orders are eligible for review, the state may also use automated methods that assess wage and state income tax data to determine any necessary adjustments.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyMaintaining balance and ensuring a healthy lifestyle following divorce has been and continues to be a difficult challenge for many spouses as they undergo the separation process. Divorce is a multi-faceted emotional journey, affecting every part of our lives, and often impacts our children, social lives, and work lifestyles in significant measure.

While there have been many varying opinions from psychologists regarding the best ways to maintain balance and stay well following a divorce, one common theme seems to string all these theories together: Creating balance after a split requires deliberate focus and practice. Here are three practical tips for both creating and sustaining a healthy life balance once your marriage is over:

1. Keep up with your normal routine - People often find themselves in need of some time off after their divorce due to the emotional distress. Divorce undoubtedly takes a big mental toll on everyone involved, but some mental health experts actually endorse continuing your usual activities and routines, including your work schedule. Other experts feel that because divorce is a loss, we understandably grieve that loss, which fuels the need - and desire - to take a break from work, social obligations, and hobbies. However you decide to recover from your separation, it is helpful to scale certain activities back without giving up your routines entirely. Attempt to find a happy medium and you have a better chance at achieving balance you can sustain long-term.

2. Make adjustments in the workplace - Just because you decide to minimize the time you take off from work after your divorce or completely bypass taking time off does not mean you cannot benefit from making adjustments in the workplace once your marriage is over. In fact, making certain adjustments may help you achieve much-needed post-divorce balance in other areas of your life, like your relationship with your children or with your physical health. It does not hurt to speak with your managers about potential scheduling changes, such as switching from morning shifts to evening shifts or telecommuting from home for a while, instead of quitting entirely or taking a prolonged period of time off. The key is to attempt adjustments at the office that will enhance the quality of your life after your divorce and ultimately create a healthier balance in your life as a whole.

3. Make quality time priority - Quality time with yourself, your kids, and other family members is key in creating a healthy life balance after an emotionally draining separation. Simple things can make a huge difference, such as sharing a meal with your children or treating yourself to a relaxing night in with your favorite movie. Make quality time just as much of a priority - and a routine - as your exercise routine or getting to work on time. When you do not neglect self-care, you will find more peace and a sense of stability in your life, which you really need following a separation.

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois custody lawyerAs divorcing spouses work through the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation) arrangements following their separation, there are a number of important areas parents must address in order to protect the best interests of the child. Everything from living and school arrangements to religious upbringing and financial agreements contribute to the production of a solid parenting plan that benefits the whole family.

To create custody and visitation plans that each party can agree on requires a significant amount of evaluation, however. According to Illinois law, the child’s best interests must first be considered to successfully identify which arrangements will work in the family’s favor. The court considers all the following factors when determining the child’s best interest:

Residential Circumstances

The distance between the parents’ houses, each parent’s daily schedule (as well as the child’s schedule), and the general logistics behind transporting the child to and from the parents’ homes are referred to as “residential circumstances” and are examined thoroughly when discussing the allocation of parental responsibilities.

Prior Agreements 

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyBreaking up is always hard to do, no matter what time of year it may be. New studies from the University of Washington have recently revealed trends that show seasonal patterns in divorce rates. While some spouses decide to call it quits from the moment they agree their marriage is over, others decide to hold out in the hopes that maybe, with a little more effort - or more time - the marriage can potentially be salvaged before it’s too late.

Here is a snapshot of some common divorce trends that revolve around specific times of year:

Holidays are a big factor.

According to the data compiled by the University of Washington between November 2001 and December 2015, there are significant dips in divorce filings around the holidays, indicating that there is a good chance most couples prefer to announce their separation after the holidays have passed. This may especially be the case when children are involved. Co-author of this UW study, Associate Professor of Sociology, Julie Brines, believes some couples may choose to wait until after the holidays to file due to high expectations, fueled by the hope that things will get better during the holiday season. No one likes to drop the bad news as the holidays are approaching, after all.

Couples wait until after summer vacation to file.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyerNo matter which way you slice it, there is nothing fun about the divorce process. Even under the most civil, loving circumstances, the actual split and all it entails can be emotionally - and financially- draining. One area most people do not like to think about but are confronted with very early on in the process is money. Regardless of how peaceful the separation, the subject of money can test anyone’s patience and place them on the defensive, especially when it involves their lifestyle and livelihood following the divorce.

When it comes time to protect your quality of life and all you are accustomed to at the end of your marriage, how you handle your assets is critical. Even the smallest mistake can cost you a lot when it is time to negotiate settlements, and if you’re not careful, some errors can continue to cost you long after the divorce is over.

Here are three ways you could end up hurting your assets and their value when you divorce:

1. Keeping joint accounts

One way you can do serious damage to your funds when you decide to separate is to keep all of your accounts connected. For example, if you and your spouse share checking and savings accounts, credit cards, auto loans, or a mortgage loan, having your name on any of those accounts makes you liable in the event something goes wrong. If your spouse misses a payment on your mortgage, you are held responsible. If you have money tucked away into a savings account and both your names are on the account, all it takes is one heated disagreement for your spouse to potentially drain the account of those funds. Close joint accounts and separate your finances now. Do not wait for the divorce to be finalized or until an argument surfaces, placing your money at risk.

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