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Naperville divorce lawyersWhen it comes to divorce, few matters can elicit an argument quite like money can. Yet it is one of the issues that couples often overlook or underestimate the impact of prior to starting the process. Further, many couples fail to consider how the financial issues in divorce may ultimately impact their credit. Do not let this happen to you! Learn how to reduce the havoc that divorce may wreak on your credit and  financial future with help from the following.

Understand the Risks

Experian, one of the three national credit bureaus, recently inquired couples on the financial impact of divorce. What they found was an average financial loss of about $20,000. That was not all Experian discovered, though. Among those that responded to the inquiry, nearly half said their spouse had “ruined” their credit.

The Contributing Issues

While there are likely a number of issues that contributed to the damaged credit-standing and financial losses of surveyed couples, much of it goes back to not knowing about or discussing financial matters prior to the divorce itself. For example, a total of 59 percent respondents said they regretted not being more financially independent prior to their divorce. Further, most disclosed that they had not discussed matters like credit scores, retirement savings, or even long-term financial goals prior to marriage. In fact, only 37 percent knew how much their spouse owed in student loans prior to getting married.  

Mitigating Risks Before Divorce

The best way to avoid financial strain and credit destruction prior to divorce is to ensure you talk about financial matters long before divorce even becomes an issue. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are a great way to do this, but they are not the only way that couples can work on full financial disclosure during or before marriage.

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Naperville embryo adoption lawyersIn a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was determined that approximately six percent of all women in the United States suffer from infertility. The statistics are thought to be about the same for men. What do these couples do when they cannot conceive? Some attempt in vitro fertilization (IVF). Others turn to adoption. Still others participate in what is now being deemed a “snowflake adoption,” or frozen embryo adoption. Unfortunately, many are learning there are many legal complexities to this type of adoption – some for which there are very few answers. The following may be able to help.

Embryo Adoptions Still Exist in a Legal Vacuum

The biggest issue with embryo adoptions is that they exist in a sort of legal vacuum, meaning there is a lack of legal information available. What is there is often conflicting. For example, divorce treats embryos as property, not people. Yet there are other laws, like the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004, that treat unborn fetuses more like humans. Designed to protect unborn children from assault and/or murder, this act allows victims of assault crimes the right to charge perpetrators if the life of their baby is lost or otherwise compromised.

Currently Treated as a Hybrid Adoption

Embryo adoption is currently being treated as a sort of hybrid situation. On one hand, you have the biological parents, which may simply wish to donate the embryos and never have contact, or that may want a more “open adoption” agreement. Then you have the implanting parents who may be subject to background checks and home studies, despite adopting only embryos that may or may not become humans.

Then there are still questions as to what might happen if the biological parents lose a child, perhaps due to a serious illness or accident, and then suddenly decide they want the child they created but did not birth. Do the birthing parents have any rights? What if the biological parents end up having the child and then learn it is to be born with a genetic condition like Downs syndrome. Does the decision of abortion lie solely in their hands, or do the biological parents have a say? No one really knows. Yet there are ways that birthing parents can protect themselves during this complex and confusing process.

How Our Naperville Family Law Attorneys Can Help

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Naperville prenuptial agreement lawyersIf you are about to get married, or have been married for a little while now, you may not be thinking about your chances of divorce. Yet statistics on divorce indicate that every couple should at least prepare for the possibility. For example, some 70 percent of couples fight about money during their marriage. Money is also a common reason that couples split up, and it is one of the most complex and emotionally charged aspects of divorce. So do not wait until divorce knocks on your door; protect your finances and prepare for the event of a divorce now.

Talk About Money Often

When it comes to dealing with money matters during your marriage, communication is the key. It can keep issues from exploding and getting out of control, and it can help each party stay accountable. Budgets and allowances for each party are also helpful, but probably the most important thing is to make sure you are respectful of your spouse’s spending habits. Remember: each of you may handle money differently, but one way may not be any more right than the other. So, instead of harping on one another about spending issues, talk it out and come up with creative strategies that work for both of you.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

If you have not yet married and have assets, investments, or even just ideas that could turn into assets, now is the time to safeguard them. Sure, the idea of a prenuptial agreement can be perceived as a bit of a romance killer, but taking care of this issue now - while you are still very much in love and more likely to protect and be fair with your spouse - is better than fighting about it in the event of a divorce.

If you are already married and never took the time to draft a prenuptial agreement, you may still have the option of a postnuptial agreement. It works in the same way - it protects your assets, investments, and ideas - but it is an agreement made after marriage. An experienced family law attorney can assist you with the process.

Contact Our Illinois Family Law Attorneys

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Naperville divorce attorneysWhile it is impossible to dispute the emotional aspect of divorce, it is an inherently legal and financial process. As such, the couples who tend to struggle the most are those that are unable to separate the emotions from their financial matters. Thankfully, it is possible to avoid this common pitfall. Learn how with help from the following tips.

Seek Emotional Support from Outside Sources

Understanding divorce as a financial process does not make the bad or negative feelings go away. Instead, you have to learn how to manage them effectively. One of the best ways to do that is to seek support from outside sources. Attend therapy, go to a support group, or even lean on friends and family members who understand what you are going through and support you. This can help you to channel any negative feelings you have away from the legal process and into a safe space.

Limit Communication with Your Spouse

Communicating with your spouse is bound to be difficult, especially when the emotions are still new and raw. Avoid this conflict (and the potential pitfalls that may arise from it) by limiting any and all interactions with your spouse. Let your attorney handle the majority of the communications, and if talking is necessary, then consider using an alternative form of interaction, such as email. This will give you space and time to think about what you want to say, or to cool down if your spouse says something that is triggering for you.

Never Face Divorce without Legal Counsel

Of all the mistakes that couples can make in divorce, trying to go through it without assistance from an attorney is likely the biggest. Not only does this eliminate the buffer between you and your spouse while working through the details of your case, it sets you and your spouse up for financial mistakes. Some of those mistakes may impact you for years - possibly even a lifetime. Play it safe and avoid these common financial mistakes by ensuring you have an attorney on your side, right from the very start.

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Naperville family law attorneysOver the past few years, there have been numerous studies on co-parenting and divorce. The one thing they all seem to have in common is that they find benefits to ensuring children spend time with both of their parents. One of the most recent to come to this conclusion goes one step further by suggesting that children may benefit most from equal time with each parent after the divorce - but should this new finding impact your Illinois parenting plan?

How Young is Too Young?

One of the biggest concerns that parents have when deciding how to split parenting time is whether or not their child is truly ready for sleepovers away from home. This may be especially concerning for parents with young children. However, the recent study found that even very young children (infants and toddlers) benefited from overnight stays with both parents. Further, the transitioning back and forth did not seem to have any long-term negative effects on the children; this, too, is often a concern for parents.

Study Followed Children to Adulthood

While most studies do their best to provide unbiased and in-depth information, some only study for a short time. This can lead to some short-sidedness, particularly when it comes to the long-term effects of divorce, visitation (or a lack of visitation), and overnight stays. This particular study followed the children all the way to adulthood. Further, it was when the children reached adulthood that the researchers examined the relationship that children had with both of their parents.

Equal Parenting Time Linked to Better Relationships

Although it may be unsurprising to some (yet extremely surprising to others), the study found that children who spent equal time at each parent’s house had a closer connection to both of their parents. Further, they seemed to have more meaningful relationships with each parent. Such relationships have long been linked to better overall outcomes for children (i.e. education, mental illness, risk of drug use, etc.). This has been particularly true when it comes to children of divorce.

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Naperville divorce lawyersWhile divorce is often viewed as a financial matter, it also carries emotional implications that can, in some cases, lead to depression, anxiety, or addiction. Thankfully, it is possible to reduce your risks of these mental health conditions. The following information explains how, and provides important details on further protecting your emotional health during and after the divorce process.

Understanding the Risks

Although anyone can fall subject to situational depression, anxiety, or addiction, others are at a much higher risk for serious problems during and after divorce. For example, a recent study, which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that women were slightly more likely to suffer from alcohol addiction after divorce (a sevenfold increased risk compared to a sixfold increase in men). Anxiety and depression are also rather common and can sometimes lead to other health conditions, such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and/or diabetes.

Protecting Your Emotional Health

Most who focus on their health during and after divorce put their energy into eating healthy or ensuring you exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, three days a week. This is a great place to start. However, some may need more help. Antidepressants or anxiety medications for those suffering from extreme depression or anxiety may be necessary. Others may find solace in support groups or through therapy. The main point is to ensure you seek help early on - even if you only think you might need it. Do not wait until things get bad or out of control. Be proactive and aks for support instead.

How Legal Assistance May Help

Hiring an attorney might not seem like something you would do to protect your health, but having that legal guidance and protection can go a long way at easing your worries. Further, an attorney can handle the legal complexities of your divorce - from filing paperwork to helping you obtain important documents - so that you can focus your energy on taking care of your mental and emotional health.

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Naperville divorce lawyersWhen pet-owning couples divorce, many are shocked to learn that their beloved animal is treated with about as much regard as a baseball card collection. They are, in the eyes of family law, property - not living, feeling beings. This can be rather troubling, especially when couples consider their pet more like family or their own children. Thankfully, a new Alaska law could influence other states to place more consideration on the well-being of family pets.

Alaska Makes Welfare of Animal a Consideration in Divorce

Prior to the implementation of their new law, Alaska was just like any other state: animals were considered marital property. Couples could attempt to make arrangements on their own, but disputes surrounding the ownership of an animal were solved by examining the financial contributions that each party had made to the animal’s care and expenses (i.e. vet bills, immunizations, and food).

Unfortunately, this gave primary income earners leverage against disadvantaged partners - especially when that partner was more attached to the animal. They could try and use the animal as leverage, or they could simply take the animal to hurt their spouse and then either mistreat it or get rid of it once the proceedings were over.

Now the best interests of an animal must be taken into account. Split custody - an arrangement in which each party has time with the animal - may even become commonplace within the state. Of course, only time will tell just how complex it will be to make such decisions regarding the welfare of an animal, but the new law is certain to bring hope to divorcing animal lovers everywhere.

Law in Alaska Could Push Other States to Follow

Animal welfare has become a hot topic in the media, among celebrities, and even in cases involving animal abuse and calls to local law enforcement. Activism, including veganism and vegetarianism have also gained a lot of traction over the last few years. In regard to divorce, countless couples have pleaded with the courts, asking for humane consideration of animals. The new law in Alaska may very well encourage other states to follow suit. Until that time, animal lovers should ensure they have quality representation in their divorce.

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Naperville divorce lawyersWhile divorce is, undoubtedly, an emotional process, it is the financial aspects that can wreak havoc on each party’s future. As such, it is the area that should receive careful and thoughtful consideration. This is especially true when it comes to unraveling joint finances. If you are planning for divorce and not sure when or how to move forward with this process, the following tips can help.

Revoke Decision-Making Power

Many couples have their spouse as their power of attorney and/or health proxy. This should be changed either before or immediately after the divorce. Alternatively, if you do not have power of attorney documents in place, now is the time to do so. You do not want your soon-to-be ex-spouse making medical decisions for you, should something happen during the process. Failing to update your documents, or simply not having them at all, could result in such a catastrophe.

Close Joint Accounts and Eliminate Liabilities

Liabilities, such as credit cards and other joint debts, as well as any joint assets should be unraveled carefully but as soon as reasonably possible. You should also implement as many safeguards as you can. For example, you might consider speaking with your bank or credit union to ask if they can require a signature from both spouses for any withdrawals. This will ensure that the funds do not simply disappear.

You should start taking personal responsibility for your own spending habits. Set up a credit card or separate account for recurring debt payments that belong to you, and request that your spouse do the same (if they are reasonably able to do so), even as the proceedings are taking place. This can protect both you and your spouse as the divorce progresses.

Seek Experienced Legal Assistance

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Naperville family law attorneysStatistics suggest that approximately one in five families in the U.S. have a child with special needs. Among them, between 7.6 percent to 10.8 percent experience divorce. This rate, though slightly lower than the general parent population (11.2 percent), does not make for a less difficult situation. In fact, special needs children can be more affected by the stress of divorce. Further, many of these children require extra time, care, and financial support, which can lead to parental stress and exhaustion. Learn more about how to mitigate the possible struggles you and your child may experience during and after the divorce, and how an amicable split and effective parenting plan can help everyone maintain their sanity.

Divorcing Peacefully Can Reduce Stress

A recent study determined that U.S. parents spend about 1.5 billion hours per year caring for their children. They also lose an estimated $17.6 billion in wages, and they often have expensive medical bills. All of this is stress-inducing enough. Add in divorce and it is easy to understand why special needs parents may become frazzled and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, that stress may be picked up by their child, who may already be experiencing stress because of a change in environment or schedules.

An amicable approach - one that focuses on resolving issues through mediation rather than litigation - can help to reduce the stress that all family members are feeling. It can encourage parents to work together to come up with creative solutions to their problems, and gives them a chance to really practice co-parenting in separate homes. Further, the mediation process is typically less disruptive to a child’s life. This can be especially beneficial for special needs children and their parents.

Effective Parenting Plans Can Benefit All Family Members

Keeping schedules straight to ensure your child makes it to all their appointments and therapies is difficult, even for two-parent households. This can become exponentially harder once you split your family into two households. Schedules will have to be coordinated carefully, and there will need to be continued communication. An attorney can help you decide which methods might be most appropriate for you and your family, and can ensure you have considered all necessary elements of your parenting plan.

Contact Our Naperville Family Law Attorneys

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Naperville divorce lawyersThough divorce is ultimately a legal transaction, it is also an emotionally complex process. It is this emotional aspect that can lead you to do things you might not have done otherwise. You might lash out, make changes that are drastic or unhealthy, or you may even make changes that can impact you long after the divorce is finalized. Learn how to avoid these common blunders during and after divorce, and how an experienced attorney can help.

Avoid Making Any Drastic Changes

Divorce, in and of itself, is a drastic change with numerous other changes that come with it. You may have to find a new place to live. If you have a child, you will likely be spending time without them so they can visit your ex. Your income may also change, which could force you to downsize many aspects of your life. So the last thing you should do is invite any more change than necessary. Do not go out and get a tattoo or quit your job to join a hippy commune. Resist the urge to purchase that antique hutch or muscle car that your ex refused to let you buy. Instead, focus on the smaller, day-to-day changes for now and give yourself some time to think about the unnecessary ones.

Let Go of Unreasonable Expectations

All too often, divorcees invite unnecessary stress into their lives because they focus too much on things they cannot control. For example, many expect their ex to act reasonably during the divorce. When that expectation is not met, they become stressed, anxious, or even downright furious. Yet this is something they cannot change. As such, it is an unreasonable expectation. Let it go, focus only on what you can control (namely your own behavior), and seek support and assistance whenever necessary or warranted.

Refusing to Find or Accept Help When You Need It

It can be difficult admitting you need help or accepting it from others, but divorce is one of those moments in life that you really should accept and seek assistance. It can make a drastic difference in how you cope with the situation, and may even impact your finances and personal life. So talk to a therapist, join a support group, or simply accept help from a family member willing to watch the kids so you can take time for yourself. Most importantly, hire an attorney and ensure your rights are protected throughout the entire divorce process.

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Naperville family law attorneysDivorce is a complex process that affects every member of the family, but children are especially vulnerable. They often suffer sadness, grief, and anger. Some also struggle to comprehend what is happening or why. This can lead to feelings of guilt and self-blame. Thankfully, parents can help their children cope with the divorce process, and in a healthy way that could reduce the risk of adjustment problems later on down the road. It often starts with the right form of communication. The following offers some tips.

Be Empathetic but Honest

Obviously, it is important that you work to be empathetic, patient, and understanding with your child. They do need their emotions and feelings validated. You cannot sugar coat the divorce though - not when it comes to what the divorce really means for them, or for the family. They need to understand that the divorce is not their fault. They also need to know that you and your spouse have worked hard to make things work, but that some people are just better apart. I

In short, your child needs to know that you and your spouse are making the very best decision you can for them, yourself, and the entire family. They need you to be willing to answer their questions in an honest and open way - not by divulging every last detail (you do need to use discretion when deciding what to share), but by treating their questions and feelings with the respect they deserve. That starts with being honest about their future.

Be Willing to Listen More Than You Speak

Like adults, children experience a complex range of emotions. Unlike adults, they do not always understand how to effectively communicate with they are feeling. As their parent, you can help them by listening more than you speak. More than that, you should be willing to look below the surface of what they are saying so you can understand what they are truly trying to tell you. If they say they hate you for the divorce, they may be trying to say that they are afraid of all the changes and what they mean. Or maybe they are trying to express that they are not seeing their other parent often enough. Listen to these words, and if needed, speak to a professional who is experienced in helping families through the divorce process.

Contact Our Naperville Family Law Attorneys for Assistance with Your Divorce

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Naperville mediation attorneysDespite common misconception, divorce does not have to be a contentious ordeal. In fact, many couples manage to get through the process without tearing one another apart. They walk away happier, healthier, and sometimes even friends. If this is the sort of divorce experience you are looking for, the following tips may be able to help.

Recognize that Pain is Still a Part of Divorce

An amicable divorce does not necessarily mean one void of pain, anger, or feelings of guilt. If you want to keep them from derailing your goal of splitting amicably, it is critical that you deal with them in a healthy way. Seek outside support from those that love you - family, friends, and neighbors. Seek counseling if you feel like you need it. Above all, give yourself time and permission to grieve. Denying the feelings or trying to bury them will only make things worse.

Focus on Your End Goal

Though support and therapy are helpful in dealing with the emotional turmoil of divorce, they do not guarantee that you will manage to keep matters amicable. This is where your end goal comes into play. Know why it is that an amicable divorce is important to you - be your children, wanting to preserve a friendship, or simply wanting to resolve matters with the least amount of stress possible - and focus on it. Every time you feel like you might lash out, every time you start to feel like you simply cannot move forward, remind yourself of that goal.

Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution Options

Traditional divorce - the litigated kind - pits one party against the other. They are intentionally placed on opposite sides of the divorce, and that creates a breeding ground for contention. If you want to avoid this situation, you might want to consider an alternative dispute resolution option, such as mediation or collaboration. These divorce options encourage couples to work together to resolve their issues. Communication, negotiation, and personal responsibility for choices and decisions are the goal. The end result is often a more peaceable divorce.

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Naperville divorce lawyersKnowing that divorce is the right path for you and actually filing can sometimes be two very different things. Fear, trepidation, and concern over the future could hold you back. You may also be afraid of hurting your spouse or your children. Overcome this fear and start on your divorce journey with help from the following tips.

Take Stock of Your Situation

While some people may consider divorce before they have truly tried, most that are serious about filing have worked hard to repair their marriage. They may have scoured the internet for advice and tried every relationship building exercise they could find. Some may have attended counseling or therapy. Still others have sought advice from spiritual advisors and those close to them. Yet they remain unhappy and may live in an environment that is stressful, contentious, or possibly even violent. In these situations, divorce may truly be the best option for everyone.

Connect with Other Divorcees

Fear or worry before filing for divorce is normal, and it is often rooted in concerns over the future. You cannot quite see past the pain and stress of the process itself, and that can keep you frozen in place. Talking to someone else who has been through it may help. While their experience is going to be different than yours, it could give you an idea of what to expect. It can also help you see that there truly is life after divorce - and it a life that you can control.

Attend Therapy or a Support Group

If you are still struggling with the idea of actually filing for divorce, a support group or individual therapy may help you get over the hump. This can be especially beneficial if you are suffering from excessive anxiety, are a victim of domestic violence, or are extremely concerned over how your child may react to the divorce. It can also help you better understand your fear - why it is there and why you may be hesitant to file. Best of all, these options can serve as a support system while you work through the divorce process itself.

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Naperville family law attorneysWhile many adoptive parents choose infants, others decide to adopt older children. The reasons for this are varied, but all of these prospective parents have one thing in common: their parenting journey will be quite different from that of a parent who has adopted a baby. That does not mean it may not be just as rewarding. It only means that the needs of older children are quite different from the needs of younger children. The following can better help you understand those needs, and how you can meet them. It also provides some details on how you can smooth the adoption process with help from an experienced family law attorney.

Expectations versus Reality

Often, adoptive parents and adopted children have unrealistic expectations of the transition process. For example, adoptive parents tend to believe their new child will be grateful and eager to join the family after spending time in foster homes and/or orphanages. When the child acts out or pushes them away, they may become confused or frustrated. Some may even fear they made the “wrong” choice. Thankfully, a better understanding of the child and what they have gone through can help adoptive parents reconcile their expectations with the reality.

Adopted children - particularly those that are older - may struggle with transition. It is not that they are ungrateful. It is not even about how much they do or do not like their new family. It is just that they have come from a lifestyle that many do not understand. Some have been pulled away from parents that they loved but were unfit to care for them. Most go through multiple placements with multiple families, which can further complicate feelings of abandonment or loss. It takes time and sometimes therapy to resolve these issues. It takes a steadfast parent who is willing to say, “I will love you, no matter what,” and to show that through their actions.

Preparing for the Adoption of an Older Child

Because the expectations of adopting an older child and the reality of it are often quite different, it is critical that prospective parents seek all the resources and education they can find. Attachment parenting, therapeutic parenting, and therapy itself are all wonderful options to consider. Further, parents should reach out to others who have adopted older children. This can better prepare them for the reality of adopting an older child, and it can ensure they have a support system when it is needed.

Our Experienced Naperville Family Law Attorneys Help Smooth the Process

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Premarital Agreements in IllinoisAs with many areas of the law, the question of whether your premarital – or, as it’s frequently referred to, your prenuptial – agreement, is legally valid and enforceable depends on a number of different factors. First, the state of Illinois requires that premarital agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties. Second, a premarital agreement doesn’t become legally enforceable unless or until you have actually gotten married.

Can I Get Out of a Premarital Agreement?

The answer to whether the premarital agreement is something you are bound by depends on if you both signed it and have since married. To be sure, a number of factors will affect whether or not your premarital agreement is enforceable, such as voluntariness and unconscionability, some of which are discussed in further detail below.

Amended Premarital Agreements and Revoked Premarital Agreements

In the state of Illinois, couples have the option of amending or revoking their premarital agreement after a marriage has taken place. However, this can only occur by written agreement signed by the parties.

If We Haven’t Amended or Revoked the Premarital Agreements, Is It Always Enforceable?

No. There are circumstances wherein a premarital agreement is not enforceable.

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Naperville family law attorneysAlthough a highly complex process, the creation of a parenting plan can be done in a thoughtful, peaceful, and productive way. This can be important for children who may feel sad, confused, angry, or even responsible for the dissolution of your marriage - and not just because the risk of contention is lower in amicable divorces.

Children tend to adjust better after divorce when they have the continued involvement of each parent, and they often continue to do better overall. Learn more about how you can create a parenting plan that works for your family, and why the assistance of an attorney can be crucial in the process.

Always Prioritize the Best Interests of Your Child

It can be difficult to realize that you are going to miss out on spending time with your child, but prioritizing your child’s best interests can often help to ensure you remain focused on the true purpose of your parenting plan. The goal is not to win. It is to ensure your child receives time and love from each parent. It is about finding a new way to be a family - one that does not reside in the same home but still has the same common goal: to raise a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child.

So lean on family and friends for support, talk to a therapist, and seek outside help whenever you need it. Seek skilled assistance with the process and learn everything you can about co-parenting after divorce. In short, do whatever you must to ensure your emotions do not eclipse your child’s needs and best interests. Your child may not ever thank you, but the end result can certainly prove you made the right decision.

Know That Negotiations Offer More Flexibility

While some parents may do better with a litigation process - particularly those that have a highly contentious marriage or have issues involving abuse or neglect - most find that negotiation through mediation is the optimal choice. It offers you more flexibility and control over the details of your parenting plan, and it often results in less contention, which can help to ease the stress between parents and children. Further, mediation gives you some practice at resolving common co-parenting issues and concerns, which may prove to be beneficial in the years to come.

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Naperville divorce lawyersWith the holidays nearly over, many Americans turn to new hopes, goals, and dreams. For some, that means finally leaving a marriage that is contentious, distant, unhappy, or abusive. In fact, statistics indicate that January is one of the biggest months for divorce filing. Unfortunately, some may end up getting more than they bargained for, either because they were not prepared, or they pursued divorce in a way that was not optimal for their situation. The following covers what you should know about divorce before you officially file.

Beware of DIY Options

The internet is full of “resources,” advice, and DIY divorce options. Unfortunately, not all of the information you find will be appropriate for your situation, and many fail to take state laws into account. For example, you may be encouraged to split assets between you and your spouse equally, but Illinois is an equitable distribution state. Of course, what one party deems fair, the other may not. This can create a lot of issues for divorcing couples in Illinois, particularly in marriages that were already contentious to begin with.

Rather than choose a DIY option, contact an experienced attorney for your divorce. This can ensure that your rights are protected, and that you and your spouse both understand what “fair” really means in your divorce. Furthermore, an attorney may be able to help you negotiate your divorce terms with less stress and fewer arguments. This can be especially beneficial if you have young children who may feel as though they are caught in the middle.

Parenting Plans Are Complex Matters

Speaking of children: couples who have them must prepare for the complex task of creating a parenting plan. This will determine the allocation of parental responsibilities (custody) and parenting time (visitation) of each parent. It will also outline when and how changes may be made, when and how to work out parenting issues, and how parents will maintain contact with one another. Again, this is a process best done with the assistance of an attorney or mediator.

Choose the Divorce Plan that Suits Your Needs

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Naperville family law attorneysThere are many difficult aspects of divorce, but likely none more difficult than telling children of the news. If you are up against this task, the following information can help. You shall also learn where you can find assistance to ensure the best interests of your children are preserved, no matter how contentious or amicable the divorce turns out to be.

Prepare for the Conversation

Even if you and your spouse are at odds, It is important that you speak to your child together. This ensures you are both there to answer any questions your child may have, and it shows that you will both continue to be there, long after the process is over. Still, it may be difficult to remain united - even for the benefit of your child - if you and your spouse are at odds. This is where preparation comes in. Sit down together, determine how much you will share (and what you will not share), and consider running through the questions you believe your child may ask. If necessary, seek assistance from a family therapist or your child’s pediatrician.

Be Sensitive to Your Child’s Emotional Needs

During the conversation, and long after, your child is likely to experience a wide range of emotions. They may become angry, withdrawn, confused, or depressed. They may act out, fall behind in school, or direct their anger and hurt at you. Take heart: these feelings are unlikely to last forever. They do give you a glimpse into your child’s emotional needs. Try to be mindful of them and meet them - whether it be listening, planning a special outing, or just cuddling up on the couch for an evening movie together. Again, if necessary, seek outside assistance from a professional that better understands the development and needs of children.

Protect Your Child’s Interests

In most situations, a child’s best interest is a continued and healthy relationship with each of their parents. This will look different for each family, of course, but the key is to find what works best for yours. An experienced family law attorney can ensure you understand your options, give you guidance and clarity in the development of your parenting plan, and ensure your rights are protected throughout the entire process.

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Naperville IL divorce lawyersThe size and structure of families have changed drastically over the last several years. In fact, many couples have opted not to have children and have chosen to adopt pets instead. For many, these animals are much like children. They are treated with love. They are pampered and taken on outings and vacations. What happens, though, if that couple ultimately goes through a divorce? The answer might surprise and devastate you, but is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Animals Are Considered Property in Divorce

Despite a couple’s emotional attachment to their pets, the law views them as property. This applies in all aspects of the law, including divorce. Unlike other assets, though, animals cannot be sold and divided. Instead, a determination must be made regarding whom will receive ownership. If a couple cannot agree, then the decision will be made by a judge.

When the courts are left to decide upon the ownership of an animal, a variety of factors are used. The courts may consider which parties have made financial contributions to the care of the animal and who may be most likely to afford the contributions after the divorce. Unfortunately, this may not be consistent with the love, time, or affection that each party has contributed. One party may have been working and supported the cost of the animal, but the other may have stayed home with the pet and met its daily needs for love and affection.

Judge Upholds Previous Rulings

Countless couples have attempted to have their animals viewed as children, rather than property. Unfortunately, none have been successful. The most recent example - and possibly one hat can help couples understand why the ruling is unlikely to ever change - is a case that was presented to a Canadian judge. Though the rules and jurisdiction are different, the outcome and reasoning is similar to that seen in the States. 

In his ruling, the judge empathized with the couple’s situation, and even sang the praises of “man’s best friend.” Yet, ultimately, he likened the “custody” request to the shared custody of family butter knives. Though beloved, and though there is a clear emotional attachment, from a legality stance, an animal simply cannot be treated like a human, nor can it be given the same rights in a divorce case. Thankfully, there is a way that couples can still work out an arrangement in divorce - one that may even benefit both parties.

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Naperville family law attorneysIt can be difficult, realizing that you only get to spend part of the holidays with your child. It does not have to be stressful, though. In fact, a little planning and a lot of communication can do wonders for your family this holiday season. This is true, regardless of where you are in the creation and implementation of your parenting plan. Learn more with help from the following tips.

Remember to Put Children First

One of the biggest mistakes that parents make (especially during the holidays) is focusing more on their needs, concerns, and feelings than those of their child. Do not let yourself fall into this trap! Remember that happy children are the priority, and that children are more likely to feel safe, loved, and happy when their parents are able to communicate effectively. So do yourself and your child a favor: think before you speak or do and always be mindful of little ears.

Create Your Holiday “Wish List”

Knowing that your child should be the priority does not mean that you do not have certain hopes and expectations for the holiday season. Yet, committing to a travel plan, family gathering, or other event before you work it out with the other parent can lead to unnecessary stress.

Save yourself the frustration and embarrassment of cancelling by creating a holiday wish list – things you want to do with your child with the dates, times, and locations. Factor in travel, weather, and traffic into the equation. Then present it to the other parent. Chances are, there will be at least some days that you want that will be free, just as there will likely be days that the other parent wants that you do not have plans for. When events overlap (and they may), try to split the time as fair as possible.

Continue Communication Once the Plan is in Place

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