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Wheaton Family Law Blog

Don't fear divorce; it could mean the marriage did its job

Some people may reflect on the end of a marriage as a personal failure. However, experts challenge people to reframe the concept of marriage and divorce. A marriage that ends in divorce may be considered successful if it has helped both parties grow as individuals. When an individual in Illinois contemplates divorce, he or she can feel that the move is a success and may then be able to focus on the strategies of effectively closing out a marriage. 

Some couples therapists share the opinion that marriage is designed to help people grow, and that the result of that growth for some individuals is that they grow out of the marriage. There are a myriad of reasons why a person would choose to move on rather than spend time working on repairing the relationship. He or she just may not have the time, energy or mental bandwidth to go on with the same person, and another approach may be a better fit. 

Is shared child custody right for my family?

One of the biggest questions parents struggle with during a divorce is, "Will I lose time with my kids?" Shared custody may feel like an appropriate choice to address this concern, and indeed it is a valid choice for many families in Illinois. Still not sure if it's the best option for your family? Here's a few things to consider for your child custody agreement.

Shared physical custody allows both parents to spend approximately equal time with their children. This can be a good option for families that have both parents actively involved in child rearing. However, in situations where one parent took on the primary role of care giver while the other remained less involved, shifting to a situation where the less-involved parent is expected to increase the level of involvement might be difficult.

Family law courts see increase in gray divorce

It's now a trend with its own term. Gray divorce, a term used for individuals who end their marriage after they are 50 years of age or older, is rising, and more family law professionals are seeing clients who fit the category. In Illinois, these older couples separate with different issues than other couples who call it quits when they are younger. 

Unlike couples with minor children, gray divorce individuals do not have the same needs for child custody and child support negotiations. Usually, the major issues of this type of marital dissolution are related to assets such as the home, investments and retirement plans. Individuals need to decide how the assets will be shared during a collaborative process, or they may need to have the matter settled by a judge. 

Top tips for telling your children about your divorce

The time has come to move forward with the divorce process. You and your spouse are on the same page, but you have one last thing to do: Discuss the future with your children.

It's only natural to be nervous, as you don't want to say anything that will upset your children or make them believe they did something wrong.

Divorce doesn't have to mean that college savings are done for

A college education is one of the most significant costs for a parent raising a child. Many Illinois parents are able to save money for their children's college tuition through hard work and planning. If the parents decide to divorce, the breakup can affect the college fund. If there is only one pot to draw from, certain living expenses must come first. 

A divorce can catch individuals off guard financially, but there are steps that can be taken in advance to reduce the threat of losing the college funds. In any case, ending a marriage will likely prompt individuals to review the college plans currently in place. If major financial changes are anticipated, the family may need to consider adjusting to financial changes and encourage lower cost options. 

Joint or shared child custody -- what is the difference?

When Illinois couples decide to end their marriages and go their separate ways, the divorce process can be complicated -- particularly if there are children involved. While most parents want what is best for their children, it could be challenging to balance the needs and schedules of the children with their own. Before making decisions about child custody, it might be best to understand the differences between joint and shared custody.

Although it is often perceived as the same thing, there are differences between the two types of custody. Shared custody allows each parent physical custody by providing food, shelter and care for 50 percent of the time. However, it is a flexible arrangement by which parents can agree on parenting plans that will also accommodate their own schedules. This type of child custody allows parents to determine whether the rights to make important decisions will be shared or allocated to one parent.

Lawmakers consider changes to child custody laws

Many Illinois parents likely understand that it is always best to reach an agreement between both parties during the divorce process that is in the best interests of their children. Child custody orders put in place by the court are a common way to ensure the physical and emotional needs of any children involved are met. However, on some occasions, a child custody battle is not between two parents, but between parents and the state.

In September 2017, Illinois courts ordered a social worker to remove a minor child from the custody of his parents. Judges may order a removal for a myriad of reasons, including, but not limited to, suspicions of abuse or neglect on the part of the parent or unsafe living conditions. While most parents would be horrified at the thought of losing their children, a child custody order is considered legally binding and must be followed. 

Be better prepared for property division

There are a number of matters to settle during a divorce. This time can also be challenging emotionally, and some people struggle to deal with the details of divorce and the feelings that come up. Luckily, experts are more than willing to share their best strategies for family law topics like property division, and individuals in Illinois are welcomed to review the tips to see how they fit into their own marital dissolution plans. 

For some, tax issues will come up during and after the divorce. During a marriage, both assets and debts are shared, so any tax liabilities from returns filed jointly will be the responsibility of both spouses, even if one spouse did not earn income. The IRS does have a type of relief called "innocent spouse" relief, so if a person believes that he or she should not be responsible for a tax debt, he or she can choose to file for this relief. 

Are there consequences for not paying child support?

Raising is a child is rewarding, yet difficult task. However, raising child without child support money is an entirely different matter altogether. The good news though, is that you do have options. If the other parent is failing to make their court-ordered payments, you can take action. 

Before taking any action though, it is important to note that you can't restrict visitation or parenting time as a consequence of not paying child support. Child support and child custody are two separate issues.

What happens if a parent breaks the parenting plan?

After you do the hard work of putting together a parenting plan with your child's other parent, you may face a number of complications when it comes to putting the plan into practice. Some of these may be logistical hurdles, while others are complications brought on by the other parent refusing to properly abide by the guidelines of the parenting plan. 

Should the other parent choose to disobey the parenting plan, you may have legal grounds to enforce the terms and protect your rights and privileges as a parent. Depending on the specifics of the circumstances, the other parent may be engaging in parenting time interference, which the courts tend to take very seriously. 

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