Posted on in Family Law

b2ap3_thumbnail_domestic-violence_20180918-213803_1.jpgBattered wife syndrome, also known as battered woman syndrome, does not only affect women. It can affect any domestic violence victim, male or female, who lives with an abusive partner. Domestic violence knows no gender.

Despite the law and the medical community recognizing that a person of any gender can perpetuate and suffer domestic violence, the term “battered woman syndrome” is still frequently used to describe the psychological effects domestic violence can have on a victim.

The Stages of Battered Wife Syndrome

When an individual faces domestic violence, he or she can internalize it and feel like he or she caused it to happen. This internalization and sense of responsibility for the violence is battered wife syndrome. Generally, it follows this pattern:

  • Denial. The victim refuses to accept that he or she is being abused;
  • Guilt. The victim recognizes the abuse and feels he or she caused it;
  • Enlightenment. When the victim realizes he or she did not cause the violence to happen, he or she is in the enlightenment stage; and
  • Responsibility. In this stage, the victim recognizes that only his or her abuser is responsible for the violence. This is where the victim leaves the relationship.

Not all victims make it to the enlightenment stage. Many stay in the guilt stage, feeling like they caused their abuse to happen and trying to be better partners to make the violence stop.

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Posted on in Family Law

b2ap3_thumbnail_rape.jpgMany people are familiar with the various types of domestic violence, such as physical abuse, psychological abuse, and financial abuse. Not quite as many are familiar with the term “spiritual abuse,” which refers to the use of religion as a way to control another individual’s actions and diminish his or her agency. Spiritual abuse can be perpetuated by a church leader against a congregation member, a parent against a child, or a spouse against a partner.

Signs of Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse can be difficult to recognize because it often invokes religious principles as justifications for violence and control. Individuals who practice any religion can face spiritual abuse. In a marriage, spiritual abuse can arise out of the gendered power imbalance many religions perpetuate.

A few examples of spiritual abuse include:

  • Prohibiting a spouse from working, opening a credit card, or accessing funds with religious justification;
  • Using one’s role as the home’s “spiritual leader” to exert authority over how a spouse speaks, dresses, interacts with others, and practices religion;
  • Using religion to isolate a spouse from his or her friends and family;
  • Exerting sexual control over a spouse, citing religious justification for doing so; and
  • Using guilt and shame to coerce a spouse into behaving in a specific way, claiming that he or she is not living according to their religion if he or she does not obey.

Read these statements again but this time, remove any reference to religious justification. If something is abusive when it happens without religious justification, it is just as abusive when it is done in the name of religion.

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IL family lawyerOver the years, legal separation has gained popularity. This has nothing to do with love and everything to do with money. A legal separation is a court order that specifies the rights and responsibilities of each spouse while they remain married yet apart. This can be a “loophole” from losing lots of money in a divorce case. Though there are other reasons for separation, such as religious beliefs or hope for improvement in the future, many have discovered the money-saving capabilities that legal separation can have and decided this was the best option for them and their family. Read about the various financial stipulations that a legal separation can eliminate before deciding to choose divorce.

  • Social Security Benefits: By law, a marriage must last at least 10 years to receive social security benefits that coincide with your spouse. Though these benefits do not begin until you reach 62 years of age, many couples think of this before signing the divorce papers, especially those who are close to the finish line. Many couples will choose to be legally separated until the 10-year mark, then use their legal separation agreement as an outline for their divorce.
  • Health Insurance Benefits: Whoever is the “breadwinner” of the household usually holds the health insurance benefits; however, some employer’s health plans allow spouses that are legally separated to continue with the benefits. This is a case-by-case basis and is dependent on the employer’s contract and plan.
  • Tax Benefits: Some choose legal separation in hopes that they will save money if they file their taxes together. This is also dependent on a case-by-case basis. Because of the complexity of tax law at the state and federal level, some states allow legally separated couples to file their taxes together while others do not.
  • Personal Finances: It is no secret that divorce is an expensive life adjustment. Some couples simply cannot afford to move out on their own and buy everything needed to start a new life. In this case, couples will get legal documents stating their separation and “divide” the belongings in their household.

Discuss Your Situation with an Attorney

Legal separation changes state to state, making it necessary for a detail-oriented lawyer who knows the federal and state regulations inside and out. Our Kane County legal separation attorney has extensive experience throughout Northern Illinois, serving clients in St. Charles, Geneva, Aurora, Batavia, Wheaton, Yorkville, Elgin, and the surrounding areas of Kane, DuPage, DeKalb, and Kendall Counties. Call the office of Shaw Family Law, P.C. to receive your free consultation, educating you on the legal separation process and the benefits involved.

 

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Posted on in Mediation

IL family lawyerDivorce mediation is an alternative to battling out your divorce agreements through the court system. This is a good choice for those who find that they can talk their divorce through in a peaceful and non-argumentative manner. Couples who decide that mediation is best for them are not those going through a divorce because they have personal issues with their spouse, but rather it is for couples who amicably agree that their marriage is no longer the best option. Selecting mediation as your divorce method forces both partners to put emotions aside and be mature about every aspect of the ending to their marriage. It is done in a neutral setting with a lawyer present and encourages both parties to talk out their differences rather than arguing in front of a judge. While divorce mediation does have benefits, it can also result badly for some couples.

Advantages of Mediation

  • Less expensive: Divorce mediation is often less costly. Usually one attorney will be present throughout the mediation process and rather than paying to wait in court, spouses will be paying for time allotted solely to their mediation session.
  • You have control: A typical divorce procedure leaves little to no control in the hands of those getting divorced. Though they have some say in the matter, a judge makes the final decisions. Mediation allows for the couple to make decide what is best for the both of you, with a mediation attorney there to keep things on track.
  • Greater confidentiality: Because divorce mediation occurs in private, your business stays your business. Those who decide against divorce mediation will have their marriage problems being discussed in front of a courtroom of legal employees.

Disadvantages of Mediation

  • Waste of money: Though mediation can be a cheaper option for couples seeking a divorce, it can result in wasted time or money. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement within the time set aside, they will have to start all over with the little progress that has been made.
  • Allow the partnership’s behavioral patterns to take over: Every couple has certain traits common to each member, usually resulting in one partner having more control than the other. If one partner is more submissive than the other, it will likely result in the other spouse receiving what they want more frequently.
  • Emotions running high: Divorce is an emotional time for all parties involved, making it difficult to set emotions aside. Though mediation is a successful alternative to many couples, others can find that putting control into their hands can lead to emotional results.

Contact Our Kane County Mediation Attorney

Our Kane County mediation attorney has experience helping couples come to an amicable agreement in regards to their divorce. If you are considering mediation, call our office at 630-584-5550 to discuss whether or not you would make a good candidate for divorce mediation. Though mediation may not be for everyone, we find that with the help of our mediation attorney, many couples successfully talk through their divorce without involving a judge.

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IL family lawyerIn the past, mothers have had the power in the custody courtroom. The mother is often given custody as a result of female stereotypes and age-old parental roles. She is seen as nurturing, selfless, and “the primary parent” whereas fathers can be seen as careless and unfit to care for a child on his own. Though times have changed and these parental stereotypes have been proven inaccurate, fathers continue to fall short in the courtroom.

Dad Data

Joint custody is the most common decision made because it is thought that a child should be raised by both of his/her parents. Joint custody may allow for both parents to be in the child’s life, but not necessarily in equal amounts. Illinois ranks in the bottom five states for the amount of custody time allotted to fathers. These children only spend an average of 23.1 percent of their time each year with their dad, giving the mother the other 3/4 of their time. The United States may be moving towards eliminating gender bias; however, the state of Illinois is in 47th place in the U.S. for the amount of custody time fathers are provided.

Though joint custody is often best for the child, not all situations allow for this to happen. Extenuating circumstances force judges to choose one parent over the other, leading to the impossible choice of giving full custody to one parent. According to the 2016 U.S. Census Report, fathers only win primary custody 17.5 percent of the time. Laws may have been passed stating that there is no custody preference for women over men, but the data shows otherwise.

Four Tips to Win Custody

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Posted on in Family Law

IL family lawyerChoosing to adopt a child is a life-changing decision for both the potential parents and the child. Though you may have made up your mind about adopting, the process involves much more than just a signature on paper. One of the first choices that must be made is the type of adoption you wish to have. Common misconceptions about domestic and international adoptions often lead people into selecting the latter; however, many people fail to realize that international adoption is not always the best choice for every family.

Cost

Many people believe that international adoption costs far less than domestic adoption, but this is often not the case. According to Adoptive Families’ 2016 survey, the average cost to adopt from China was $36,070, Ethiopia was $38,667, and South Korea was $46,412. These are three of the most popular countries to adopt from, with China taking the lead at 2,354 adoptions to the U.S. in 2015. That same year, the average cost for domestic adoption through an attorney totaled $34,594.

Many people fail to recognize the travel and medical expenses that are involved in international adoptions. Often times the adoptive parents must get vaccinated, along with their future child, and make multiple trips to their future child’s country of origin. Travel and medical expenses greatly increase the cost of international adoptions.

Timing

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 IL divorce lawyerWhen an individual is unhappy with his or her marriage, the obvious solution is for him or her to file for divorce. In some cases, the individual has another option: annulment. An annulment is different from a divorce in that it officially breaks down an invalid marriage, rather than legally dismantling a legitimate one. Annulments are rare in Illinois, but a judge may award one when an individual provides sufficient documentation to show that he or she is in an invalid marriage.

If you are in an invalid marriage, meaning that the marriage is not legally binding for some reason, an annulment is a way to officially recognize that the marriage is invalid and relieve you of any obligations you face related to it. In most cases, each party simply reverts to the lifestyle he or she led before the marriage, complete with his or her separate assets, after an annulment. When necessary, the court may create a property division or spousal maintenance order for a couple annulling their marriage. Any children born into an invalid marriage have the same rights as children born to married and unmarried parents.

Valid Reasons to Annul a Marriage in Illinois

In Illinois, a marriage may be annulled for any of the following reasons:

  • One spouse cannot engage in sexual intercourse;
  • The couple is closely related to each other;
  • One spouse or both spouses were already married to another person when the marriage was performed;
  • One or both spouses were underage and did not have parental permission to marry when the marriage was performed;
  • At least one spouse was unable to consent to the marriage due to mental incapacity, duress, or being under the influence of drugs when the marriage was performed; and
  • One or both spouses entered the marriage fraudulently. An example of a fraudulent marriage is one where a resident alien marries a citizen to avoid deportation.

Certain Grounds Have Time Limits for Annulments

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 IL divorce lawyerWhen you marry another single parent, you create a blended family. Whether you both have your children living in your house full-time or the children move in and out of the home according to their parenting time schedules, you and your spouse are the heads of a new family unit. Integrating your children into your new blended family is not always easy. The tips below can help you make the transition less stressful for you, your spouse, and your children.

Create New Family Hobbies and Traditions

Every family has their special traditions and hobbies they enjoy. Now is the time to cultivate the family traditions you and your spouse will enjoy with your children. Determine a few fun, age-appropriate activities the whole family can enjoy and make them part of your routine. They do not have to be expensive or complex – just enjoyable.

Maintain Consistent Household Rules and Expectations

If you and your spouse decide that all the children are expected to finish their homework before dinner, maintain this expectation equally for all children. Enforcing certain rules more strictly with one “set” of children and maintaining different expectations for them can cause conflict and make your children feel like you are showing favoritism.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce is the legal process of dismantling a marriage, and as such, the divorce process involves many financial decisions like dividing a couple’s marital property and determining whether spousal maintenance is necessary and appropriate. For the individuals getting divorced, the divorce process can be expensive. It also involves individual planning on each partner’s part to ensure that he or she does not face financial hardship after the divorce. Your discussions with your lawyer should cover every financial topic related to divorce, such as the tax obligations that come with certain marital assets and how to divide your retirement accounts through a QDRO. On your end, take the following initiatives to make the divorce process as financially straightforward for yourself as possible.

Completely Sever Yourself from Your Spouse Financially

Before the divorce is finalized, work with your spouse to close all your joint accounts. If he or she is an authorized user on your credit cards, remove him or her from them. You might choose to divide your outstanding credit card debt yourselves by transferring it to two new, separate credit cards. This is also the time to determine how to divide your shared investments.

Determine Your Post-Divorce Obligations and Create a Budget

After your divorce, you will probably be living off just your own income. This significant change in household income warrants a new budget.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerEvery marriage has its ups and downs. Communication differences, differences in life goals and lifestyle needs, infidelity, addiction, and financial distress can all challenge a couple to the point of making them consider divorce. In many of these cases, the couple does divorce. In others, the couple chooses to remain together, sometimes in a miserable relationship and in other cases, happily and successfully after making an effort to resolve the conflicts that drove them apart.

Couples who successfully recover from marital distress do so by employing effective conflict resolution strategies. The most effective way for you and your spouse to learn more about these strategies and how to employ them in your life is to work with an experienced marital counselor.

Actions that Will Not Fix Your Marriage

Some couples attempt to fix their marriages with significant life changes like moving to a new state or having a baby. In most cases, these are not effective ways to resolve marital difficulties because they do not address the couple’s existing conflicts, they only mask them. Additionally, certain life-changing actions like having a new baby only increase a couple’s stress level, pushing their marriage closer to divorce instead of strengthening it.

Actions that Can Fix Your Marriage

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IL divorceSome divorce factors are obvious, like high levels of conflict and disparate drinking habits between a couple. But there are many other factors that can predict a couple’s likelihood of divorce, some of which are not quite obvious and can even be surprising or counterintuitive. Below are four surprising factors that can influence whether a couple’s marriage will end in divorce.

The State Where You Live

Some states have higher divorce rates than others. In fact, some regions of the United States have higher divorce rates than others. You are more likely to get divorced if you live in the South than if you live in the Northeast. But couples who live in Nevada have the highest divorce risk of all, while New Jersey couples have the lowest.

How Much You Spent on Your Wedding

Some couples think of the money they spend on their weddings as an investment in their marriages, but the opposite is actually true: couples who spend less money on their weddings are less likely to divorce than couples who spend a lot of money. To put it into perspective, couples who spend $20,000 or more on their weddings are 3.5 times more likely to divorce than couples who spend between $5,000 and $10,000, and the group with the lowest divorce rate is couples who spend less than $1,000.

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IL divorce lawyerToday, the divorce rate for individuals over the age of 65 is three times what it was in 1990. There are many different factors that contributed to this rise in “gray divorces,” such as Americans living longer and a reduced social stigma around divorce.

Couples who divorce at later stages in their lives have very different needs and considerations to make than younger couples. One big difference between these divorces and divorces among couples in their 20s, 30s, and 40s is that usually, couples over 50 no longer have minor children and thus, do not need to develop parenting plans or create child support orders. This does not mean their divorces are any less complicated than divorces between parents of young children, just that they are different. Below are a few important issues that older divorcing couples face.

Your Retirement Plans

Your retirement accounts are marital property, which means they are subject to equitable distribution in your divorce. The court will likely divide your retirement accounts through a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), which ensures that an alternate payee, the spouse whose name is not on the account, receives his or her fair share of its contents.

Changing Your Estate Plans

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IL divorce lawyerIt is easy to feel inundated with information about what to expect when you are expecting. Few pregnant women expect to get divorced while they are expecting, but it happens. Here is what you can expect from your divorce and the months that follow when you are pregnant.

You Can Make Parenting Decisions, but you Cannot Establish a Parenting Plan Before Birth

Talk to your partner about the parenting plan you will put into place when the baby is born.

Though you cannot create an official parenting plan before birth, you can be ready with tentative agreements regarding parenting time and responsibilities after your child is born.

A parenting plan for a newborn is much different from a parenting plan for an older child, especially if you plan to breastfeed and thus will need to be present almost constantly. A newborn’s attachment needs and sleep schedule also need to be taken into consideration when developing a parenting plan. Keep in mind that the parenting plan you establish shortly after birth can be modified later as your child grows.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerWhen a marriage ends, both partners can feel a sense that their identities have changed. This can be especially true for individuals, usually women, who chose to change their surnames when they married. Changing your name after your divorce is a personal choice. There are as many valid reasons to change your name as there are reasons to keep it, just like there were when you first married. Think about the following reasons why others choose to keep or change their names after divorce to determine the right course of action for yourself.

Reasons Why Divorced Women Keep Their Married Names

For many people, changing their last name to their spouse’s when they marry is not “taking” the spouse’s name, but creating a new family with the new surname. An individual with this mindset might choose to keep his or her married name after divorce because to him or her, it is as much his or her name as it is his or her former spouse’s name.

Other divorced individuals keep their married names for more practical reasons. These include:

  • Having the same name as their children;
  • Keeping the name under which they established themselves professionally; and
  • Avoiding the legal complexities of changing their name on all their documents, like their passport and driver’s license.

Reasons Why Divorced Women Change Their Names

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Illinois divorce lawyerIn a healthy relationship, both parties can manage their own emotional and personal needs. In a codependent relationship, one or both partners cannot do this for themselves, so they rely on each other to manage all their personal needs. Do not confuse emotionally supporting a spouse with codependency – in a healthy marriage, both partners should be expected to be there for each other. Codependency goes beyond this level of emotional support. Codependency describes a relationship where one partner sacrifices his or her own needs to fulfill the other’s, causing him or her to suffer from the difficulties that come with poor coping mechanisms like internalized shame, people-pleasing behavior, and perfectionism to the point of fearing failure. A codependent relationship is not healthy for either party or if they have children, the children. Often, divorce is an important step toward recovering from codependency.

Recognizing Codependency in Your Marriage

Often, a codependent spouse is known as an enabler. The term “codependency” first arose to describe spouses of alcoholics, because often, they would exhibit this type of behavior and enable their spouses to continue to drink dangerously. Individuals in abusive relationships and relationships with addicts also frequently exhibit codependent behavior.

Codependency symptoms can be seen in the spouse who is not addictive or abusive. It is the enabler who suffers these symptoms, which include:

  • Low self-esteem;
  • Reactivity;
  • Little to no respect for others’ boundaries;
  • Internalized shame;
  • Learned helplessness;
  • Difficulty with communication;
  • A need to control others and situations; and
  • Denial that there is anything unhealthy about their relationship.

Preparing for Your Divorce

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Illinois divorce lawyerSome couples believe they should hold off on their divorces until their children are grown. It can be easy to see why a couple would think this way – divorce can be stressful for children, having a parenting plan means the children do not get to see both parents every day, both parents have to face the stresses of parenting individually, and when one parent finds a new partner, conflicts can arise and create wedges within the family. These are all legitimate challenges divorced couples face, but none of them are a good reason to forgo exiting an unhealthy marriage until one’s children are adults.

Why? Because when a marriage is marred by constant conflict, divorce is the healthiest solution for every member of the family. In fact, it is better for children to experience a divorce and grow up with healthy, functional parents than it is for them to grow up in “intact” families where fighting and stress are the norm.

Constant Exposure to Conflict Is Unhealthy for Children

When there is tension in a household, everybody is affected. Even babies and toddlers pick up on their parents’ conflicts and feel secondhand stress. Children who grow up watching their parents constantly fight and fail to resolve their conflicts appropriately can internalize harmful ideas about relationships and develop unhealthy coping mechanisms for dealing with household stress. If children are not taught how to resolve conflicts appropriately and instead, spend their days watching their parents fight, they can repeat the harmful patterns that drive the conflict in their homes.

Divorced Couples Who Co-Parent Effectively Set a Healthy Example

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Illinois divorce lawyerIt is not always easy to recognize when your marriage has reached a point that divorce is necessary. We become accustomed to certain patterns and over time, can become so used to a certain lifestyle that we cannot see that it is toxic.

Take a step back and look objectively at your marriage. Every marriage has rough patches, but when a rough patch becomes a permanent way of life, it might be time to exit the marriage. If you are not sure if your marriage is a healthy one, discuss it with an experienced mental health care professional to get deeper insight into the difficulties you are facing and possible solutions. You might be able to change your lifestyle to rebuild your marriage, or you might find that divorce is the healthiest choice for everybody in your household. If one or more of the following is true, divorce might be the way to go.

You Cannot Resolve Conflicts in a Healthy Way

If all your attempts to resolve conflicts in a productive way end in screaming matches, slammed doors, and hurt feelings, you are not communicating in a healthy way.

A strong marriage requires clear communication between the partners. Communication skills can be learned, but like learning any other skill, it takes practice. Both partners need to be willing to practice healthy communication skills and hold themselves accountable for their mistakes.

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Illinois divorce lawyerSummer vacation is right around the corner. If this will be your first summer co-parenting with a parenting plan, it can be easy to get confused about how co-parenting works once school is out for the summer. If you included specific summer vacation plans in your parenting plan, co-parenting this summer can be easy. If you did not, talk to your former spouse about creating a modified parenting schedule for the summer. If you agree on a modification, you can alter your parenting plan at any time.

Adjusting to life after a divorce can be difficult for every member of your family. Use the following guidelines to make this summer the easiest transition possible.

If You Have a Summer Vacation Parenting Plan, Follow It

Many divorcing parents include a summer vacation plan in their parenting time schedules. While the children are out of school, they might spend more weekdays with their non-custodial parent or switch to a weekly alternating schedule, rather than a schedule where they only spend a few fixed days each week with one parent. In your summer parenting plan, be sure to include the start and end date for the seasonal schedule and if applicable, specific, recurring vacations each parent takes. If your child has specific plans for each summer, such as going to summer camp the first week in August, include this as well.

Be Willing to Be Flexible

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IL family lawyerDomestic violence always has negative effects on a victim. Many of these effects, like lowered self-esteem, bruises, broken bones, and anxiety, are immediate and appear concurrently with the abuse. Others do not become apparent for months or years after the abuse begins. In some cases, an individual experiences long-term effects of domestic violence even after leaving the abusive relationship.

If you face domestic violence, discuss it with your doctor so he or she can have more context with which to diagnose your physical health conditions. Your doctor can also refer you to a mental health specialist to help you work through the lasting psychological effects of facing domestic violence. Below are a few of the long-term issues domestic violence victims face:

Increased Severity of Chronic Conditions

Domestic violence is stressful, and stress exacerbates all other health conditions. When an individual faces domestic violence, his or her risk of suffering from chronic pain, asthma, heart disease, and arthritis increases.

Additionally, physical injuries sustained through domestic violence can increase your risk of suffering from new conditions later in life. One example of this is the correlation between traumatic brain injuries and Alzheimer’s disease.

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 Illinois divorce lawyerIf anybody told you co-parenting was easy, they were either lying to you or woefully misinformed. Co-parenting with your former partner can be quite a challenge after your divorce, even if the divorce itself was fairly amicable. When your parenting styles differ, it can be difficult to find a “middle ground” that serves your children in terms of structure, expectations, discipline, and parental involvement in your children’s daily lives. But difficult does not mean impossible. You can work cooperatively with your former spouse to co-parent your children, but you both have to be willing to be flexible. Keep the following in mind as you, your former spouse, and your children settle into their new parenting plan.

Communicate Your Concerns

Put your negative feelings toward your former spouse aside and talk to him or her about your children. If you have concerns about the way he or she is parenting your children, discuss them. You should not feel entitled to control how your former spouse parents your children, but you should also feel comfortable raising concerns with him or her and expect that your concerns be validated.

Be Willing to Be Flexible

Adjusting to life with a parenting plan is a big change for every member of your family. The reality of life with a parenting plan could look very different from the lifestyle you envisioned, and when this is the case, be willing to adjust your expectations and adapt your lifestyle to your children’s needs. After all, your child’s parenting plan is for his or her benefit, not yours or your former spouse’s.

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