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  • Building a successful co-parenting relationship


    Following divorce, ex-spouses can provide their children with a greater level of stability while also allowing them to build beneficial relationship with both of their parents by sharing custody. To form an advantageous co-parenting relationship, parents must strive to put aside their personal relationship issues and do what’s best for their children.  

    Guidelines to follow 

    Soon after their divorce is finalized, parents should sit down and make a plan that meets the needs of their individual children. This should include how visitation time, holidays and other special occasions will be handled. For example, a couple who has a child who is 11-years-old, has strong ties with her school and is heavily involved in extracurricular activities may alter their co-parenting plan to allow her to stay in the same school and continue to participate in the same activities she enjoys.

    Additionally, while developing their child custody plan, parents should agree upon behavioral guidelines and boundaries they will use for raising their children to promote consistency. For instance, parents should determine at what time their children need to be in bed every night, when meals will be eaten, how homework will be taken care of in the evenings and how discipline should be handled.

    Parents should also continue to communicate actively about each of their children’s development, recognize that their children may try to test the boundaries of their new situation after the divorce and commit to conducting themselves with emotional maturity when conflicts arise. 

    What to avoid 

    To ensure their co-parenting plan is successful after divorce and that they are able to maintain a healthy relationship for their children, parents should avoid the following practices:

    • Prohibiting their children from seeing their other parent during their assigned time or speaking negatively about their ex-spouse in their children’s presence
    • Forcing their children to side with one parent when a conflict or challenge arises regarding scheduling
    • Trying to become their children’s favorite by satisfying material desires during assigned visitation times
    • Using their children to find out information about their ex-spouse or manipulating them to act a certain way in the presence of their other parent
    • Depending on their children for emotional support to an extreme level due to feelings of hurt or loneliness 

    Although it may be ultimately beneficial for their children, parents may find that maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship can be extremely challenging following their divorce. Parents who are concerned about the effects of sharing custody with their ex-spouse may benefit from speaking with an attorney who can provide guidance and support during the creation of their parenting plan.

  • How does Illinois’ equitable distribution law work?


    One of the most difficult parts of divorce for many couples is the property division process. From the house and cars to valuable furniture, everything must be divided between divorcing spouses. Because Illinois is an equitable distribution state, how a couple’s property is divided during the divorce process is determined by how the court sees fit.   

    Determining factors 

    There is no set rule that determines which spouse receives which assets during the property division process. However, according to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the court will divide the couple’s property depending on a variety of factors. These include the following:

    • The contributions each spouse made to increasing or decreasing the value of marital property
    • How long the marriage lasted
    • The standard of living established during the marriage
    • Each spouse’s earning currently and their ability to provide an income for themselves in the future
    • How old each party is and their current emotional condition
    • What contributions each spouse made to the other’s education, training or professional licensure

    The court will also take into account any other factors that they deem necessary while dividing a couple’s property. For example, a mother decided to stay home and raise her two young sons during her eight-year marriage. Her husband receives an annual salary of $500,000.During the property division process, she is awarded 60 percent of the marital estate and her husband receives the remaining 40 percent. Due to her limited earning capacity and absence from the workforce, she is awarded a larger portion of the couple’s assets.

    In contrast, a couple decided to end their marriage after three years together. Both spouses have full time jobs and do not have children. Since both spouses are able to support themselves individually, each spouse receives approximately half of the marital property.

    The valuation process 

    During the initial stages of the equitable division process, the court determines which assets are considered marital property and which items are separate property. Then, each asset and debt is assigned a value. After this is done, the court divides the property between each spouse.

    The property division process can be an extremely challenging aspect of getting divorced for couples. Since courts do not abide by a specific set of rules and instructions for dividing property, it may be difficult to know which assets will be awarded to which spouse. Divorcing couples who desire to know more about how their property will be divided during the process may benefit from consulting with an attorney who can provide guidance at this time.

  • Traditional child custody vs. co-parenting

    1207978_s According to a recent article from Psychology Today, on co-parenting after divorce, young children are said to be the most highly affected when they are exposed to conflict between parents or experience a dramatic lessening in time spent with either parent. Traditional child custody arrangements consist of one parent who is the primary caregiver and decision-maker for the child or children. The non-custodial parent has arranged visitation times which vary from case to case. In some traditional arrangements where the parents live relatively close to each other, visitation may be as often as every weekend. In other arrangements, where parents live far apart, visitation may only include certain holidays and a few weeks during the summer. This type of custody arrangement, of necessity, separates children from parents for prolonged periods of time, which often results in anxiety, aggressive behavior and problems with sleep and school.  Co-parenting One way that is believed to be more effective in raising children after a divorce is through co-parenting. In this type of custody, parents agree to work together with respect to where their children will be, and for what length of time. Some of the benefits of co-parenting include the following:

    • Decision making – Both parents share responsibility in making important decisions relating to their children.
    • Records – Both parents retain access to medical and school records, along with any other records that may be related to the welfare of the child.
    • Convenience – Parents who have a working co-parenting arrangement often find making changes in scheduling far more convenient than in traditional custody arrangements.
    • Focus – This type of custody allows more of the parent’s focus to be on the child or children involved. According to Dr. Joan Kelley, a professor of psychology, parents are the most qualified experts on their own children, and as such are more capable of making co-parenting decisions to benefit them.

    Many children benefit when divorced parents are willing to work together by using co-parenting to schedule child custody. Such cooperation on the part of parents often helps raise children who are more confident and less anxious as they grow toward adulthood. Choosing Custody Style  Though there are many benefits to co-parenting, there may be times when a traditional custody arrangement may be in the best interests of a child. These types of situations may include relationships, in which there may have been spousal abuse, bitter, emotion-filled relationships after the divorce or in cases where one spouse lives many miles away. A family law attorney can help to determine which type of custody arrangement will be most beneficial for you and your child. 

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  • How new health care insurance options affect divorce in Illinois


    Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, providing health care insurance after a divorce was cost prohibitive for many couples. Insurance coverage for children is typically covered under the policy of the employed parent, but when one spouse is dependent upon the other spouse, that spouse often loses those benefits in the event of a divorce. This is due to the fact that health care insurance policies are only written to cover current spouses.

    Generally, people who become ineligible for health insurance under their ex-spouse’s policy have been able to qualify for COBRA insurance for up to 36 months. COBRA allows people to purchase insurance coverage in the same insurance group for a predetermined period of time. The cost of this type of insurance, however, can be as much as 102 percent of the group rate that the spouse may have been paying. This high cost is startling to some, and was often the cause for many women opting to be uninsured after a divorce, according to a 2012 study conducted by the University of Michigan.

    Insurance assistance

    Under the Affordable Care Act, an unmarried individual would be able to qualify for insurance cost assistance subsidies. This allows them to not have to suffer from having high monthly COBRA rates. The types of assistance available beginning January of 2014 include the following:

    • Subsidies – A household that makes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $45,960 for a single person, would qualify for a subsidy in the form of a tax credit.
    • Set premiums – Insurance providers must provide insurance despite prior medical conditions. This means that a spouse who has lost health coverage due to divorce will not be charged more for insurance simply because of a pre-existing condition.
    • Minimum standards – Those who are covered by an insurance plan may now expect that their policy will include coverage in emergency rooms without prior authorization, rehabilitative services, and basic dental care.
    • Annual Caps – This type of insurance will ensure that there is a reasonable cap on out of pocket medical expenses each year.

    With the changes in federal insurance law, people who may have previously relied on health care provided by their spouse’s employer may be able to afford quality insurance that is not as expensive as in the past.

    Health care costs after divorce 

    The costs of health care often have a large bearing on the size of divorce settlements or maintenance to be provided. A qualified family law attorney can help those struggling with health care decisions to negotiate for a settlement that will help them cover the costs of their care.

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