Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyerAs a parent, there is a lot of pressure on you to keep any “negative” thoughts about parenthood to yourself. But the truth is, raising children is hard. This is backed up by statistics: in any marriage, the couple’s satisfaction in the marriage declines during its first few years. For couples with children, this decline is twice as steep as the decline childless couples face.

This does not mean you should forgo parenthood. What it means is that having children can put an immense pressure on your marriage and if you are not proactive about anticipating child-related conflicts and resolving them in a healthy manner, this pressure can push you to divorce.

Children and Divorce Statistics

There are many different factors that can impact a couple’s likelihood of divorcing. Some of these factors have to do with the couple’s children and their positions on raising children:

  • Having daughters increases a couple’s chance of divorcing while having sons reduces it. Unmarried couples who have a son are more likely to marry than unmarried couples who have a daughter, and when a couple has two daughters, their likelihood of divorcing is 43.1 percent versus 36.9 percent if they have two sons;
  • When a woman wants a child more strongly than her spouse wants a child, the marriage is twice as likely to end in divorce as a marriage where the couple wanted children equally; and
  • Parents of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are 22.7 percent more likely to divorce by their child’s eighth birthday than parents of children without ADHD.

Overcoming Child-Related Conflicts in Your Marriage


Posted on in Family Law

Illinois divorce lawyerThere are many ways to add a child to your family. Some couples conceive and birth biological children while others adopt children from the foster system, through private adoptions, and from other countries. When an individual with children marries, whether for the first time or after a divorce, his or her spouse may adopt the children and become their legal stepparent. This is known as a stepparent adoption.

A Child Cannot Have Three Legal Parents

One of the most important points to understand about stepparent adoption is that a child cannot have three legal parents. Although many children and adults refer to a parent’s spouse as their stepparent, a stepparent only has legal rights to a child if he or she completes the stepparent adoption process, which is only possible if the child’s other biological parent voluntarily gave up his or her parental rights or if these rights were terminated by the court. Otherwise, a parent’s spouse can build a strong relationship with a child, but without the legal rights that come with being an actual parent.

When a biological parent voluntarily terminates his or her parental rights, he or she no longer has any right to parenting time with the child. He or she also cannot be required to pay child support, nor can he or she seek child support from the child’s other parent.

Completing the Stepparent Adoption Process


Illinois divorce lawyerStatistically, an individual’s second or subsequent marriage is more likely to end in divorce than his or her first marriage. There are a few reasons for this. Although every marriage and by extension, every divorce, is unique, the same patterns and conflict sources tend to appear in second and later marriages across demographic groups.

It is not impossible to have a lasting second or subsequent marriage, but it does often take more work than a first marriage requires. Below are three common issues that drive remarried couples to divorce.

People Enter Second Marriages with More Baggage

Marriages end for a lot of reasons. A few common reasons include:

  • Poor conflict resolution skills;
  • Infidelity;
  • Poor communication skills;
  • Domestic violence;
  • Financial conflicts;
  • Conflicts about how to raise their children; and
  • Different lifestyle expectations.

Sometimes, a marriage ends primarily because of one partner’s behavior, like prioritizing his or her career over the family or behaving in a controlling manner toward his or her spouse. In other cases, a marriage breaks down because of actions on both partners’ parts. In any case, an individual who does not take the time to truly change his or her behaviors and thought patterns that led to the breakdown of his or her first marriage will likely repeat these patterns in a later marriage. This, coupled with a more dismal view of marriage and relationships that one can develop after a divorce, often spells trouble for second and subsequent marriages.


Posted on in Divorce

Ililnios divorce lawyerCertain jobs and career paths are correlated with a higher rate of divorce than others. These are not necessarily the most physically stressful jobs like construction, nor are they jobs that tend to keep individuals away from home for prolonged periods of time, like the military. Many of the jobs cited as having a high divorce rate are jobs that are mentally exhausting and put employees into positions where they are in close physical contact with others, either clients or colleagues.

There are many factors that increase or decrease a couple’s likelihood of divorcing. Each partner’s career is only one of these factors. The couple’s education and income levels, whether they have children, how old they were when they married, and the income disparity between the partners are also indicators of whether a marriage will end in divorce.

Which Careers have the Highest Divorce Rates?

The following five careers are statistically the top five for divorces:

  • Dancers and choreographers;
  • Bartenders;
  • Massage therapists;
  • Gaming cage workers, the employees who handle financial transactions in casinos; and
  • Extruding machine operators, the workers who perform repetitive tasks on assembly lines.

Other careers linked to high divorce rates include professional athletes, switchboard operators, and individuals who work as nurses and home health aids.


Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyerFew couples head straight for divorce when their marriages become difficult. Instead, many try to work out their difficulties and rebuild their marriages into healthy relationships. Couples have different reasons for wanting to remain married. Some want to raise their children in an intact family, others are uncomfortable with change or worry about the financial burden of a divorce, and many still do love their spouses and do not want to end their marriages.

There are effective and ineffective ways to fix a marriage. Below are a few strategies that many couples think will work, but nearly always backfire and accelerate the end of the relationship.


Some couples move to new cities and states as a way to save their marriages because they feel it will be a fresh start for their relationship. But in many of these cases, the couple simply brings the issues they had in their old home to their new one, and old patterns rear up again and drive them apart. Moving to a new place can make a marriage stronger, but only when the move is an active, affirmative choice made by both partners. When it is an attempt to move away from old difficulties, those difficulties have a way of finding the couple again.

Minimizing Conflict


Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce lawyerOnce you determine that your marriage is over, you have a lot to do before and after you file for divorce. One important step is to start working with an experienced divorce lawyer to ensure that your rights and interests are protected and promoted through the divorce process.

The other steps you take before you file for divorce can make a big impact on your divorce’s progress and its ultimate outcome. During your initial consultation with a lawyer, talk about what you can do to streamline the divorce process. Every divorce is unique, but most benefit from taking the following actions:

Separate your Finances and Create Preliminary Property Division Plans

Your marital assets and debts will need to be divided between you and your spouse in your divorce. You can let the court handle the division process on its own or you can be proactive and make your own property division choices. This latter route generally enables the couple to retain greater control over how their property is divided.

One of the simplest steps to take before your divorce is to divide your bank accounts and credit card debt on your own. Transfer the balances on your joint credit cards to separate cards and close the original accounts. You can also do this with checking and savings accounts.


Illinois divorce attorneyIn a divorce, the couple’s marital assets are not the only thing that has to be divided. Their marital debts, too, must be divided according to the doctrine of equitable distribution. Just like marital assets, most debts accrued during a couple’s marriage are considered to be property of both parties. In a divorce, the court consider a variety of factors, such as each partner’s income and contributions to the marriage, to determine an appropriate way to divide these debts.

Examples of Marital Debts

Marital debt can include:

  • The outstanding mortgage on the couple’s home;
  • Debt owed on joint credit cards;
  • Student debt for education pursued during the marriage;
  • Medical debt; and
  • Outstanding debt on financed vehicles.

Dividing Debt According to Equitable Distribution

Even if a specific debt was accrued primarily for one partner’s benefit, such as medical bills for one spouse’s treatment or student debt for his or her degree, both partners are liable for it during and after their divorce.


Illinois divorce lawyerWhat was once known as legal custody is now known as parental responsibilities. This is the right to make decisions on a child’s behalf that impact the child’s lifestyle and future. Under Illinois law, a parenting plan must touch upon all of the following subjects and state which parent is responsible for making decisions in each subject area. Both parents can be named in one or all subject areas, granting them both the right to make decisions and requiring them to work together in their child’s best interest:

  • Education;
  • Healthcare;
  • Extracurricular activities; and
  • Religious upbringing.

There are many competing philosophies on education and even among married couples, parents can disagree about the best course of action for their child’s education. If you find yourself disagreeing with your former spouse’s thoughts and choices regarding your child’s schooling, keep the following in mind:

If You Share the Responsibility to Make Choices About Your Child’s Education, You Have to Work Together

When you share parental responsibilities with a former spouse, you have to cooperate for your child’s sake. Making decisions about moving a child to a different school, keeping him or her back a year, handling behavior problems in the classroom, and discussing issues related to your child’s learning disability or need for an individualized education program (IEP) can be stressful.

Take yourself and your feelings about your former partner out of the equation and focus solely on your child’s educational needs. Use concrete facts like progress reports and report cards to guide your conversations with your former partner. Remember that sometimes, a parenting plan needs to be altered to give a child the best chance for academic success.


Illinois divorce lawyerIn an Illinois divorce, the couple’s assets must be divided equitably. This is only possible when both partners are transparent about the assets they own and the assets’ values.

Sometimes, dishonest individuals use their partners’ lack of knowledge about their marital assets to try to keep the assets out of the property division process and leave the marriage with more than their fair share of these assets. If you are thinking about doing this, stop that train of thought. You should not try to hide assets from your former partner in your divorce, and this is why:

Your Former Spouse Can Find the Assets You Hide

If your spouse has a feeling you are hiding assets, he or she can uncover them through some detective work with his or her lawyer and/or a forensic accountant. There is no “safe” way to steal assets from your marital pool – whether you think you can hide assets by transferring them into a custodial account for your child, having a friend “hold” your assets in their account for you, or making cash purchases to liquidate the money in your joint accounts, your spouse can always trace your steps and find the money if he or she is willing to do so.

Your Unwillingness to Cooperate with the Court Can Haunt You Later


Illinois divorce lawyerYou cannot separate education from a child’s life. Think it like trying to extract a career from an adult’s lifestyle and perception his or her role in society. When you first meet somebody, one of the first questions you ask is “what do you do?” For a child, school is what he or she “does.” Because of this, a child’s academic needs are considered heavily when the court develops an appropriate parenting plan for him or her. And although child support orders are created using a formula, special academic needs can force the court to deviate from this formula.

Child Support can be Used to Cover School Expenses

For most children, school expenses include:

  • School supplies;
  • School clothing; and
  • Occasionally, field trips and other special events.

In some cases, a child needs far more support for his or her education. This can be the case when a child attends private school and needs parental support for tuition and uniforms of when the child has a severe mental or physical disability that requires him or her to attend a specialized school.

Your Child’s Academic Needs Are Considered when Your Parenting Plan Is Developed


Illinois divorce lawyerDomestic violence is far more than hitting and other forms of physical violence. It can involve psychological and emotional manipulation to maintain control over the victim. In many cases, emotional and psychological abuse occur alongside physical abuse. Other forms of violence, such as financial control and sexual abuse, can also be present.

Below are four forms of psychological abuse that can go unnoticed because they tend to be subtle. Look at the examples provided for each to help yourself determine whether psychological abuse is happening in your household.


Triangulation is a manipulation meant to pit two parties against each other or control the flow of information between two or more parties. It is the use of a third party to relay information to another individual when there is no reason to involve the third party, thus making a “triangle” of communication.

Examples of triangulation include:


Illinois custody attorneyLife rarely keeps us in one place forever. You might be offered a new job opportunity, get accepted to your dream school, meet a new partner, or face financial and personal conditions that make moving away not just an option, but the ideal course of action for you. Before you had children, decisions like this were easy to make. With children, they are far more challenging. And when you have a parenting plan for your child, moving can require court approval.

Not all proposed moves require court approval. A parent can move across town or within a small radius without getting permission from his or her former partner or the court. It is only when a proposed move is far enough that it would require altering an existing parenting plan that the parent cannot simply pack up and go.

Determine How Far You Can Move without Permission

In Illinois, where a parent currently resides determines how far they can move without his or her former partner’s consent or court approval. For parents in Cook, DuPage, Kane, McHenry, Lake, and Will counties, this limit is 25 miles from their current residence. For parents in all other Illinois counties, the limit if 50 miles. These limits apply to inter and intrastate moves, except for when a move is both out of Illinois and at least 25 miles from the child’s current residence.

Get Your Former Partner’s Consent to the Move


Illinois divorce lawyerWhen a couple cannot stand to be around each other, they are often advised to file for divorce. But a divorce is not feasible in all cases. When there is a barrier to a couple divorcing, whether that barrier is their cultural or religious beliefs about marriage, their financial situation, or just their own perspective of the marriage and the prospect of ending it, legal separation can be a useful way to detach from each other without actually ending the marriage. Some legally separated couples do go on to divorce while others remain content living singly while legally separated. Still, others use their separation as a time to reflect on their marriage, repair the issues that drove them apart and find ways to be a successful couple.

Below are four common reasons why Illinois couples choose legal separation.

Your Religion Prohibits Divorce

Many religions prohibit divorce. Sometimes, individuals’ personal convictions make divorce an unattractive, or even unacceptable, option. For individuals whose religious or philosophical beliefs make divorce a taboo subject, legal separation can be a way to exit an unhealthy marriage without actually violating these beliefs.

You Are Not Sure if You are Ready for a Divorce


Illinois divorce attorneyWhen a pregnant woman is subjected to domestic violence, she is not the only one who can suffer an injury. The fetus she is carrying at the time of the abuse can suffer in many different ways, some of which do not manifest until after birth.

Pregnancy is stressful for any couple. Sometimes, this stress drives individuals to behave in ways they never behaved before. When violence is already part of a relationship, a pregnancy can cause the violence to become more frequent or more severe. Below are various ways domestic violence can harm a fetus and eventually, a newborn and infant. If you or somebody you know is in an abusive relationship, pregnant or not, it is important that you or the victim exit the relationship safely.

Miscarriage and Stillbirth

Extreme violence can kill a fetus, which can result in a miscarriage or stillbirth. These events can be psychologically traumatizing for a mother. Miscarriages can also put women at risk of suffering physical injuries like excessive bleeding and infection.

Injuries to the Fetus


Illinois custody attorneyWhen a divorcing couple has children, a child support order and parenting plan are part of their divorce settlement. But what if one or more of the couple’s children are still in the womb? The court cannot create a child support order or parenting plan for a fetus. These can be established after the child’s birth, at which point the child’s legal parentage becomes an important issue to consider if he or she is not actually a product of the marriage. When the child is the product of the couple’s marriage and the parents intend to establish a parenting plan for him or her, it can be easier to wait until the child is born to complete the divorce process. However, this is not required in Illinois like it is in a few states.

A Baby Born to a Married Woman or a Woman Married at the Time of Conception Is Legally the Spouse’s Child

Legal parentage is not the same thing as biological parentage. When a woman who is currently married or was married at the time of conception gives birth, her spouse is automatically the baby’s legal parent, regardless of whether the spouse is the child’s biological parent. This can create difficulties in cases where another man fathers a married woman’s child.

A non-biological legal parent who does not want to be the child’s legal parent must terminate his or her parental rights, which is easier to achieve with the aid of an experienced family lawyer. Conversely, an unmarried biological parent must establish his parentage to become his child’s legal father, which can be done in a few different ways.

Applying Illinois’ Parenting Time and Child Support Laws after Birth


Posted on in Child Support

Illinois child support lawyerWhen a child support order is created, it is created to provide for the child’s needs effectively based on his or her parents’ income level. It is rare for a child support order to remain appropriate until the child turns 18, the point at which most child support orders terminate. If you are currently paying or receiving child support and your order no longer covers your child’s needs, you can modify your child support order.

Child Support Orders Are Eligible for Review Every Three Years

In Illinois, a child support order can be reviewed every three years to determine if it still meets the child’s needs without creating an undue burden on the child’s parents. During this review period, you and your former spouse have the right to request a modification to your order. After requesting a modification, the court reviews your request to determine whether it is appropriate and applicable.

If you receive child support enforcement services from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, you must prove that a modification would result in a difference of at least 20 percent of your current child support amount and one created with an updated application to state guidelines during this review period.

If an Immediate Change Is Necessary, You Will Have to Prove Why It Is Necessary


b2ap3_thumbnail_child-custody.jpgThe parenting agreement you sign at the time of your divorce might not serve your child well until he or she becomes an adult.

A parenting plan is divided into two components: parenting time and parental responsibilities. You can modify one or many items in your parenting plan by filing paperwork with the court to alter it. If you and your former spouse agree to the change, this is an easy process. If you do not agree on the proposed changes, you will have to demonstrate to the court that circumstances in your lives have changed and the proposed new plan is in your child’s best interest.

Your Child’s Needs Change as He or She Grows

When your child is in elementary school, remaining in the same school after your divorce could be in his or her best interest because this means one less disruption. By high school, attending a school that has greater academic resources might be a higher priority, which can mean changing districts. In this case, consider altering your parenting plan so your child attends the school that can serve him or her better.

Changes in a Parent’s Household Impact the Child


b2ap3_thumbnail_mediator.jpgOnce you and your spouse have determined that you are a good fit for divorce mediation, you need to find a mediator who is a good fit for you. In order to find the right mediator for your case, you will need to do some research. Look up divorce mediators in your area and read their reviews online. Schedule a consultation with a few mediators to get a better sense of each of their approaches to the mediation process and how they can help you. Arrive at each consultation with the following questions prepared:

What Will It Cost to Work with You?

The average divorce mediation costs $7,000. That might sound like a lot, but compare it to the average cost of divorce litigation: $25,000 or more.

Ask your prospective mediator what it will cost to work with him or her before you sign a contract to work together. He or she should be able to give you a reasonable quote that you can compare with other mediators’ costs.

How Do You Conduct Mediation Sessions?


Posted on in Child Support

b2ap3_thumbnail_child-support_20171102-005221_1.jpgIn nearly every divorce between parents, a child support order is part of the divorce settlement. This is the court order that requires one parent to make payments to the other to help cover the costs of raising a child. It is not uncommon for a parent to be curious about how the support he or she pays is used, especially if it does not outwardly appear that the children are benefiting from these payments. If you suspect that your former spouse is not using your child support payments appropriately, talk to your lawyer about potentially modifying your child support order or parenting plan. Violating a court order is contempt of court, and if you can demonstrate that your former partner willingly violated his or her child support order, he or she can face legal consequences.

Child support covers a broad range of needs. Basically, it can be used to help with any costs your child incurs for your former spouse. These costs generally fall into the following categories:

Your Child’s Medical Needs

One parent is required to include the child on his or her healthcare insurance plan. If this parent is the one who receives child support, the money received can be used to help offset insurance costs like copays and premiums. Child support can also be used to cover a child’s uninsured medical needs, like the need for over-the-counter medication.

Your Child’s Day-to-Day Care


Illinois divorce lawyerNo matter how you approach your divorce, you will need to work through the division of your marital property. When you divorce through mediation, a neutral third party guides you and your spouse through each issue to be resolved and finalized in your divorce settlement. For many couples, the division of their marital property is the most complex of these issues.

Before you begin working with a mediator, talk to your lawyer about how you should approach your property division. You will need to be your own advocate during the mediation meetings, which can be confusing and overwhelming if you do not completely understand why a specific breakdown of your marital assets is in your best interest.

What Are Your Current Financial Needs?

If you do not make enough money to cover your home’s mortgage and property tax payments on your own, it is probably not in your best interest to fight to retain the house. In this scenario, you might see a much greater benefit by selling the home and splitting the profit with your former spouse. If you receive spousal maintenance, this could be a consideration in your property division. If you are a parent, your parenting plan could also be a point to consider when dividing your assets.

Think of the Future


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