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Belleville Family Law Blog

What happens to the kids in an Illinois divorce?

No one thinks they will ever end up there when a marriage begins, but divorce court is the destination for around half of the newlyweds in the United States. Second and third marriages are even more likely to collapse before one spouse dies. But the main question for caring parents about to go through a divorce is "what happens to the kids?"

  • What is different about a divorce with children in Illinois?

All the usual requirements for a divorce in the Prairie State apply, such as at least one spouse's residence in the state for 90 days or more. Plans for child support, or maintenance, are one of the early differences in the process.

  • How are child support and other issues decided in an Illinois court?

Parents no longer have to lose custody to pay for health

It's a lot of work to raise a child in Illinois. When parents need extra help, they should not be penalized by losing custody of their charges.

The Prairie State just issued a new law designed to protect parents' claims to custody if their children require certain forms of treatment. Many families were previously trapped in a difficult choice between custody and treatment after children have run-ins with the law that involved untreated mental health conditions.

Do these things to protect your finances during divorce

Divorce will impact your life in many ways. While it's easy to focus on the personal changes that you're going through, your finances require just as much attention.

Here are several things you can do to protect your finances during divorce:

  • Open separate bank accounts: Gone are the days of sharing a bank account with your spouse. Now, it's important to have your own accounts, as you don't want to co-mingle your money. The second you decide to divorce is the second you should open your own bank accounts.
  • Close joint credit cards: If you neglect to do this, your soon-to-be ex-spouse could run up a large balance, putting you on the hook for some of the debt. Closing the account takes this risk out of the equation.
  • Review your credit report: This will give you a clear idea of where things stand in regard to your finances, which is important when it comes to opening a new credit card account, renting an apartment or buying a vehicle.
  • Keep copies of important financial documents: This can include but is not limited to bank account statements, retirement account statements, life insurance policies and tax returns. You'll need these documents during the divorce process. They may also come in handy in the future.

Your divorce can greatly impact the children

Gong through a divorce can be a challenging experience partly because you don't know what the future holds. If you have children, you must start thinking about this as quickly as possible when you know the marriage is ending. Many of the things that you are going through during the divorce can have a significant impact on the way child custody goes.

You can do considerable damage to the kids if they are privy to the disagreements that can come with divorce. With this in mind, you have to take steps to ensure that they are kept from the contentious matters. This might not always be easy, especially when you don't have reliable childcare, but you have to do what you can.

Don’t make these mistakes with your children after divorce

Once your divorce is final, you should turn all your attention to creating a better life for you and your children in the future. While it's not always easy to co-parent, dedicating yourself to doing the right thing will ease your stress.

Unfortunately, it's easy to make mistakes with your children after divorce, with these among the most common:

  • Force your children to take sides: Don't ask your children who they like better. Don't prompt your children to tell your ex that they'd rather spend time with you. Putting your children in the middle will increase tension for all parties involved.
  • Assuming you'll never have to see your ex again: This may be possible if you don't have children together, but when co-parenting you'll have to communicate and see your ex from time to time. Showing your children that you're able to get along is healthy for everyone.
  • Attempting to keep them away from your ex's family: It's okay to do this if you have a good reason, but don't get in the way out of spite. For example, it's important for your children to spend time with your ex's parents.

How to tell your co-workers about your divorce

Once you decide in favor of divorce, you'll have questions and concerns about breaking the news to your family, friends and co-workers. While it's often easy to confide in your loved ones, the same doesn't always hold true at work.

Before we go any further, remember this: You're under no obligation to tell your co-workers about your personal affairs.

Watch what you say to your spouse during divorce

Even if you are on speaking terms with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, that doesn't necessarily mean you should communicate during the divorce process. Sure, there are times when this is necessary, such as during mediation. However, you should be careful about what you say at other times.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Anything you say can complicate your situation: For example, if you share too much information on how you're approaching the divorce, your spouse may be able to use it to their advantage.
  • Stay off of social media: It doesn't matter if you're talking in a friendly tone or not, stay off of social media for the time being. Your activity on social media can complicate the divorce process.
  • Communicate for the well-being of your children: If you have children together, you'll probably need to talk during the divorce process. It's okay to do so, just make sure you take steps to avoid trouble. With tensions high, any disagreement has the potential to turn into a serious argument.

How to choose a guardian for your children after divorce

Divorce will alter your life in many ways, including your approach to estate planning. You must consider what would happen to your children in the event that you pass on before they reach the legal age of 18, and your ex is unavailable or unwilling to take on full custody.

You're not legally required to name a guardian in your estate plan, but doing so will give you peace of mind. Answering the following questions will allow you to make the right decision:

  • Does the person have the same parenting style as you? You don't want your children to go through any unnecessary changes, so choosing a guardian with a similar parenting style is a must.
  • Is it okay to consider multiple guardians? If you have more than one child, you may want to consider this idea. It's not ideal to break your children up, but it may be necessary if you don't want to put too much burden on one person or one couple.
  • Is the person financially stable? Raising children is expensive, so you don't want to choose a guardian who's dealing with financial troubles. Adding children to the mix will only put more strain on them.
  • Is the person young and healthy? Choosing a young and healthy guardian is a must, as you don't want to have any concerns about them not being able to take on the duty should the time come. For example, an older guardian is more likely to develop an illness that prohibits them from raising your children.
  • Are you comfortable talking it over with the person? You shouldn't formally name a guardian in your estate plan until you first discuss it with them. If the person is completely on board, you can confidently proceed. However, if they have some concerns, it may be best to consider another route.

Are you familiar with these signs of divorce?

While you never want to admit that you've spotted one or more warning signs of divorce, this may be the reality you're living. This should lead you to consider the finer details of your relationship, with an eye toward taking the right next step.

There are many warning signs of divorce, with these three among the most common:

  • You're unhappy: In simple terms, you're no longer happy with the life you're living. Maybe you argue with your spouse all the time. Or maybe you find it difficult to enjoy the things that once made you happy.
  • You avoid your spouse: There are many signs that you're doing this, such as staying late at work so you don't have to spend as much time at home. You may even get the feeling that you'd rather drive around in your car than go home to face your spouse.
  • Your family and friends have doubts: If others can see trouble with your marriage, there's a good chance something is going on. Get honest with yourself as you evaluate the good and bad associated with your marriage. Furthermore, don't get upset with loved ones for trying to help.

When addiction interferes with child custody

It's hard to reconcile addiction with competent parenting. Many alcoholics and addicts struggle mightily with their demons while retaining custody of their minor kids. But it's a sad fact that those who are most impacted by the struggle are the children.

An addict's struggles may only publicly surface when there is a change in their relationship status. A spouse may file for divorce or an intimate partner may end the relationship over the addict's continuing to use alcohol or drugs. That partner or spouse may then petition the court for custody, citing the addict's lack of fitness as a parent.

When you are ready to discuss your legal issue with an experienced Illinois lawyer, we will be here for you.

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Johnson, Johnson, & NolanAttorneys At Law

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Belleville, IL 62220

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