Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family attorneyOf all the emotions that individuals face during divorce, stress is one of the most common. Some experience it from grief, others because of anger or resentment, and still some due to contentious situations. Regardless, all can manage their stress and improve their situation. Learn how with help from the following divorce coping strategies.

Accepting the Divorce

You do not have to like the divorce to accept it. In fact, few couples truly celebrate the process itself. After all, no one wants to hurt a person they once (or possibly still) love. Unfortunately, some relationships simply do not last. Begging, trying to get revenge, pleading, or bargaining is unlikely to change that. For some, not even therapy helps. So, if you and your spouse are on the path to divorce, the best thing you can do to start coping is to accept that change that is happening in your life.

Dealing with Your Feelings

During divorce, emotions can change and shift quickly, often from one extreme to another. You might be sad one moment, and then angry another. Understand that these highly charged emotions are normal, and they are a part of the grieving process. However, if you start to experience extreme depression, struggle to deal with daily activities (i.e. work, caring for children, etc.), you may want to consider seeking outside help from a therapist or support group.

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois child custody attorneyThroughout the years and perhaps due to the change in family dynamics in our country, the family law regarding child custody and visitation schedules have undergone significant changes. No longer are we in the ages of the clear cut, laid out in a black-and-white model of care arrangements. Legislators realized that there is no one-size-fits-all model. Instead of joint custody or sole custody division, Illinois has the additional assignment of parental responsibility. Although transitions such as these are beneficial because they allow the courts to mold a solution suitable for each family, terms become increasingly blurred and challenging for someone unfamiliar with the area. It is not uncommon for questions to arise when determining the best outcome for each child.

The Best Interest of the Child

As always, Illinois focuses on the best interest of the child, occasionally even if that is against the guardian's preferences. A judge will take into consideration if someone is unwilling or has a lack of want to care for the child, as well as those who do prefer to look after the child, however other factors play into consideration. By Illinois law, 15 factors influence the determination of parental control, including:

  • The child’s wishes and needs,
  • The child’s adjustment to the home, school, and surrounding community,
  • The mental and physical health of all parties,
  • The relationship of the parents (i.e. contentious, cooperative, etc.)
  • The history each parent has in decision making for the child,
  • Parental wishes,
  • Potential restrictions on decision-making capabilities,
  • Abuse, and
  • Sex offender registrant status.

Parental Responsibilities

Regardless of which parent has physical custody of the child involved, there is a separate matter of who has the decision-making capabilities. There is no legal obligation stating that both parents have an equal right to choose the upbringing of the child. For instance, a judge may determine that the mother can make a decision regarding education whereas the father makes the decision about religion. The major areas in which a judge determines who controls the decision making include:

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyFor many couples who decide to end their marriage, the idea of bouncing back after the split is a daunting one. Regardless of how long you and your spouse were together or whether or not the divorce was a peaceful, mutual decision, saying goodbye to the relationship is an emotional journey that unfolds over time. Much like other losses in life, divorce brings about its own form of grief, which naturally slows down the rebound process.

Studies Show You May See an Improvement in Mental and Physical Health after You Leave a Poor Marriage

Although everyone needs time to work through the aftermath of the separation, moving on is not an impossible feat, as much as it may feel like it in the midst of the divorce process. A research study from the Journal of Family Psychology shows that those who have poor marriages generally do better after the divorce, and the overall satisfaction of individuals who divorce depends greatly on their perception of the relationship during the marriage. For example, if you and your spouse were fighting constantly and you experienced ongoing arguments and bouts of depression as a result, chances are you are going to benefit from the separation and all it entails.

Kick-Starting Your Goal to Move On

While you cannot force the healing period that follows divorce, you can be on your way to feeling better sooner, rather than later, by practicing the following:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-filing.jpgMany couples must ponder the idea of whether or not there is truly a “right” time to divorce when faced with the decision to call it quits. Is there really such thing as a good time to break the sad news to friends and family? No one is ever truly prepared for the emotional toll that divorce entails, so it is completely understandable when a couple chooses to delay the decision. Some couples hold off with hopes for possible reconciliation, while others feel it may be best to stay together for the children.

Identifying Priorities

Whatever the personal circumstances surrounding your imminent separation, weighing various factors that may ultimately shape your divorce experience for better or worse before officially ending the marriage can be beneficial. Evaluating these factors can help you identify your priorities in the divorce process, which can help you decide the best time to make the jump.

Explore some of these key areas when looking at the timeline of your divorce:

1. Financial Standing

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyThe American Psychological Association (APA) tells us that in the United States alone, more than 90 percent of people marry by the age of 50, but that 40 to 50 percent of couples end up divorcing. When it comes to subsequent marriages, the APA says the divorce rates are even higher, which tells us that although people continue to get married, certain troubles still tend to strain relationships and in many cases, inevitably cause marital demise.

Factors that Lead to Separation

While the causes for divorce are vast and diverse, there are certain trends in relationships that often result in separation, and ultimately, divorce. These trends all share common themes: Each one involves the breakdown of communication, intimacy, and trust. When combined, these factors turn into core conflicts and often result in the disintegration of a marriage. Among the many reasons for divorce, here are four of the most common:

1.Money management - Whether you have money troubles or not, the difference in how you and your spouse handle money can play a big role in your marital satisfaction. Many marriages end due to financial problems, and those problems do not necessarily always involve debt. For example, if you save a large portion of your income while your partner overspends, of if there is a significant difference in salaries, rifts can emerge that stem from tension and resentment.

2. Lack of contact - Physical intimacy, affection, and mere communication through texts and phone calls are all vital components to a successful, satisfying marriage. When there is a lack of intimacy, a decrease in basic expressions of affection, or no effort being made to reach out to one another, this lack of contact can erode the quality of the marriage over time. In some cases, it can cause the relationship to unravel quickly, depending on the other circumstances surrounding the problem.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyOver the years, an array of opinions has surfaced over the subject of legal separation before divorce. For most people, the term “separation” on its own sends off immediate warning signs that something must be wrong in the marriage. While the fact that separation clearly implies conflict in a marriage, the reality is legal separation is pursued by many different couples for various reasons, and the intent is not always to end the marriage. Many couples pursue legal separation with the hopes of saving the marriage and do succeed, eventually reconciling due to the time spent apart.

Motivations Behind Legal Separation

Others are simply unable to reconcile, however. In this case, the damage is done, the separation has only further clarified that the marriage is, in fact, over, and divorce naturally becomes the next step on the agenda. Most couples fall somewhere in the middle when they choose to legally separate. For example, married partners commonly separate because they are uncertain if divorce is the right choice for them and for their family, or they would like to try counseling and want time to attempt to repair the relationship before calling it quits.

Potential Benefits of Spending Time Apart

Whatever your personal circumstances, if you find that you are in a similar place, it may be worth it in your case to consider the benefits of legal separation before resorting to divorce. Here are three common reasons some couples opt for legal separation instead of divorce, and some points for you to consider as you weigh which option best suits your situation:

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerThere is no greater dilemma for parents exploring the possibility of divorce than deciding whether or not to go through with the process for the sake of the children. There is much at stake where kids are concerned when deciding to end a marriage. Everything must be taken into account, including the immediate emotional and mental effects, to how the split will impact the children in the future, as the years go on.

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

The question of whether staying together is in the children’s best interests is a difficult one to answer, but one thing is certain: There are a number of diverse opinions on the matter, but ultimately only you, the parent, can decide if it is time to say when, or if it will work in everyone’s favor to remain a family unit despite the marital conflict.

Psychologists suggest examining the following as you explore whether divorce is the right decision for your family:

Consider the ways divorce would negatively affect your children.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family attorneyFor many, recovering from the emotional onslaught of divorce is a long, uphill battle, full of turbulent disagreement and ever-mounting tension. Others feel the same emotional weight in terms of loss, but experience a much smoother transition when it comes to the technicalities behind the divorce. When couples are able to work together and remain civil, keeping one another’s best interests at heart, they tend to bounce back with more ease than couples who exchange a lot of animosity and spite, and their overall ability to move on and let go is greatly improved.

Removing Obstacles

Whatever your personal circumstances are as you wade through the separation process, chances are you will, like most people, experience some bumps as you enter post-divorce life. Learning how to be single again and all the lifestyle changes that come with the transition can make the adjustment period difficult even for those parting on the most mutual of terms.

If you are about to embark on the post-divorce journey or are currently struggling with it, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you are on the right path to healing. Remove potential obstacles that can slow down the healing process by practicing the following:

1. Do what you love - Studies show that those who lose or have trouble regaining interest in the activities or hobbies they loved before the divorce tend to get stuck in the grieving process. While you cannot rush healing, it is important to stay involved with the things you love and to nurture your existing routines. It also helps to try new things and challenge yourself; you may discover a new interest along the way, which can help you as you work to re-discover who you are without your spouse.

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerWhile it is not uncommon for the road to and through divorce to be a mutual, peaceful one, the reality remains that there is always that percentage of married couples who do not make it through the journey without multiple bumps in the road. Divorce is often plagued by conflict, tension, and problems reaching resolution on numerous matters, from everything to parenting time arrangements and the creation of a parenting plan, to the division of assets and child support payments.

Approaching Divorce as a Beginning, Not an End

Whatever your personal divorce circumstances look like, if you are on the verge of blending a new family dynamic together shortly after your split, then you are on deck for a whole new challenge entirely. Those pesky conflicts you faced throughout the divorce proceedings are no longer tied to the separation alone, but are now factors that will come into play with another issue: The task of beginning a new chapter with your newly blended family. Merging a new family means working with your former partner, addressing lingering hurt your children are experiencing from the previous marriage, and channeling your time and energy into building a healthy foundation with your new partner and their children.

Challenges You May Face as a New Stepparent

Some of the challenges a new stepparent may face are diverse. Here are some points of conflict you can expect to encounter if you are freshly divorced, or if your new partner has recently been through a split:

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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.

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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