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Belleville Family Law Blog

Things to consider as a new co-parent

The transition from being in a tight-knit family unit to a co-parenting relationship can be a tough one. It can often be difficult to accept that your children will no longer enjoy the security of a traditional family home. However, all co-parents should remember that children can thrive after their parents' divorce when both parents put their differences aside and work on being successful co-parents.

As part of the transition, you will need to make sure that the allocation of parental responsibilities is done in a way that you believe is fair. In Illinois, the courts aim to reach a decision that is in the best interests of the child. In most cases, this means ensuring that there is a continuation of the parent-child relationship.

When is divorce not the right way to end a marriage?

It's hard to admit sometimes when a marriage has neared its end. People's feelings can change, and the practicalities of living together or raising children under the same roof may change as well. Illinois law allows for spouses to divorce with or without the full cooperation of the other spouse. But, in some cases, divorce is not the right legal choice.

  • How can a person end a marriage without divorce?

The main reason that divorce is not the proper way to dissolve a legal marriage is if a marriage was not legal in the first place. There are a few circumstances in which someone was not legally permitted under Illinois law to wed, and the spouses in those situations do not need to file for divorce.

  • What are the circumstances that could invalidate a marriage?

Illinois records became part of a child custody dispute

Divorce is always a difficult process, even if both spouses agree that it is the best thing for their futures. The most complicated and meaningful part of the process is dealing with the needs of children from the relationship. This may prove to be a priority for parents who never married, as children can be a divisive subject in any relationship that involves them.

A pair of parents in Illinois are embroiled in a serious dispute that has also raised questions about the sort of information that they could get about each other. It began with the father requesting health information on his daughter after he separated from the girl's mother. It began with a wellness check done by police, which yielded only positive results.

How is child custody decided during a divorce?

What happens when parents feel the need to divorce? Even if the finances and properties are well sorted out, there will be emotional consequences that can last a lifetime. Before you say that it's not affecting you as a divorcing parent, think about the child who has no choice in the matter and will have to learn to accept the custody determination.

Swapping custody for better financial aid may no longer work

Parents will do a lot for their children. They will argue with school administrators for opportunities and go without so their children can eat well. Recently, it appears that parents will even give their children up, so they have a better chance at education.

Several Illinois parents have voluntarily surrendered custody of their children, so they could apply for greater levels of financial aid. Need-based financial aid for college education is generally based on the income of the student's household. When legal custody no longer exists, the student can often claim a lower income.

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.

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, & Nolan
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