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Wheaton divorce lawyer for parenting time and mental health issuesDealing with mental illness during divorce is not an uncommon issue. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 51.5 million people, or around one in five adult Americans, live with some type of mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. While most adults who live with these illnesses find ways to adapt and cope with everyday life, divorce can be a particularly difficult period of time, especially if it involves conflict between spouses. One of the biggest issues that many divorcing parents disagree on is parenting time, which can be exacerbated if one parent has a mental illness. But can a parent actually lose their right to parenting time if they have a mental illness?

Determining the Best Interests of the Child

Any action that the court takes or decision is made involving children must be done based on the child’s best interests.  It is not of the opinion of the state of Illinois that having a mental illness, in general, means that you should not have parenting time or that you should be subject to any restrictions to your time with your children. However, a judge does have the authority to do so if he or she feels that the mental illness would endanger your child’s mental, emotional, physical, or moral well-being.

Mental Illness and Caring for Your Child

Determining parenting time when a parent has a mental illness is done on a case-by-case basis. Mental illnesses range in severity and do not affect all people in the same way. For example, a parent who has schizophrenia might pose more of a danger to their child than a parent with anxiety. Mental illnesses like schizophrenia also have a higher chance of causing a parent to be hospitalized or require care themselves. The judge will consider things such as the frequency of the occurrence of your mental health issues, the severity of the issues, and whether the issues would interfere with the child’s life.

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DuPage County divorce attorney for irreconcilable differencesDivorce looks different for every couple. Some divorced couples end their marriage and never speak to each other again. Other couples remain on good terms and even take family vacations together after their split. Some may even continue to live together after getting divorced. If you are in a situation where it may make sense to continue living with your soon-to-be-ex, you may wonder, “Can I get divorced in Illinois if we are still living together?”

Understanding Illinois’ Rules Regarding Living Separately and Apart

One of the many changes to Illinois divorce law that took place in 2016 was a revision of the grounds for divorce. In the past, divorcing spouses could assert fault-based grounds such as adultery or the no-fault ground of “irreconcilable differences.” If the spouse alleged a fault-based ground, the mandatory separation period was six months. If the couple alleged irreconcilable differences, the mandatory separation period was two years.

Presently, there are no fault-based grounds for divorce in Illinois. The only grounds available is irreconcilable differences. There is also no mandatory separation period. You do not have to live apart for any length of time before you qualify for divorce. However, if a spouse contests the claim of irreconcilable differences, living apart for six months may be used as proof that irreconcilable differences have been established.

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Wheaton, IL divorce lawyer for discoveryIf you are like the vast majority of adults in Illinois, you probably have a cell phone, computer, tablet, or all three. Most of these devices can record audio and video at the press of a button. It can be very tempting to make use of this ability during divorce – especially if your spouse’s behavior is much different behind closed doors than it is in public. You may wonder, “Can I record my spouse and use this recording as evidence during my divorce?”

Illinois Law Regarding Recording a Conversation

Most states are one-party consent states. This means that it is lawful to record a conversation between two people if at least one of them knows that the conversation is being recorded. For example, you could record yourself speaking on the phone to someone else because you know that you are recording. Illinois, however, is an all-party consent state. This means that both you and the other party need to provide consent for a recording to be legal. Recording someone without their permission may be considered a Class 4 felony offense in Illinois.  However, there are several exceptions to Illinois laws regarding eavesdropping and recording.  

Defining “Surreptitious” in the Context of Eavesdropping

In 2014, the Supreme Court of Illinois ruled that the eavesdropping statute was unconstitutional. The law has since been amended. You may not record conversations if the conversation takes place in public, and the participants have no reasonable expectation of privacy. However, you may record conversations that are open and obvious. Eavesdropping is now defined as overhearing or recording private conversations without consent in a “surreptitious manner.” This means obtaining a recording via “stealth or deception” or recording through “secrecy or concealment.”

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DuPage County grey divorce lawyerThe make-up of the American family has changed dramatically over the last 100 years. One of the trends taking place throughout the United States is an increase in the average ages of marrying couples. Both men and women are getting married later in life. In 1960, the average age of first-time brides and grooms was 20 and 22, respectively. Presently, the average ages of first-time brides and grooms are closer to 30. This change has affected family law concerns, including prenuptial agreements and divorce.

Individuals Getting Married Are More Like to Have Significant Assets and Debts

Couples used to get married soon after high school. Modern spouses are much more likely to be in their mid to late twenties. This means that many brides and grooms have a college education, and consequently, student loan debt. Modern spouses are also more likely to own substantial assets, including a home or small business. This is one reason that many family law attorneys are seeing an increase in prenuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement is a legally enforceable contract that is used to describe spouses’ property rights. The contract may identify certain assets and debts as non-marital and therefore not subject to division during divorce. A prenup or postnup may also describe a spouse’s entitlement to alimony or spousal maintenance.

Divorce May Be Especially Complicated

Because Americans are waiting until they are older to get married, divorce cases often involve intricate financial and personal issues. Divorce involving children and stepchildren can lead to disputes regarding parental responsibilities, parenting time, and child support. Divorce involving complicated financial circumstances such as commingled assets, hard-to-value assets like cryptocurrency, and complex investments may also lead to contentious disputes.

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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for child issuesThe silver lining of a separation or divorce is the possibility of meeting someone new. If you have found love after a failed marriage, you are probably eager to start your new life with this person. If you are a parent, this may include introducing your new partner to your children. The introduction of a new romantic interest after a separation can sometimes be difficult for children to handle, so it is important to be intentional about this event.

Wait Until You Are Divorced

For many people, a marriage is over long before the couple actually finalizes their divorce. If you are separated or soon will be, you and your spouse may have been sleeping in separate bedrooms and living separate lives for months or even years. You may understandably be eager to start dating someone new. However, dating before your divorce is complete can exacerbate the stress, confusion, and uncertainty that your children experience during the divorce process. It can also have potential consequences on the outcome of your divorce. For example, if you spend money on gifts or vacations with your new partner, your spouse may accuse you of dissipating assets, which can affect property division during divorce.

Go Slowly and Do Not Force a Relationship

You are probably excited for your children to develop a relationship with your new partner. However, trying to rush a relationship can backfire. Sometimes, children may resent a new romantic interest in their parent’s life. They may feel threatened or assume that the new partner is trying to replace the other parent. Give your kids time to adjust to the new partner slowly. You may want to introduce the partner at a group gathering so there is less pressure on the children.

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