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Wheaton divorce lawyerIt is no secret--divorce is not easy. It can be lengthy and costly, and it can drive your emotions through the roof. Even though divorce is stressful by nature, it does not have to mean the end of your emotional well-being. If you are beginning the divorce process, here are five ways to emotionally prepare yourself for divorce and make the most out of the next phase of your life:

1. Seek Social Support

People tend to want to isolate themselves when they go through a divorce because of the emotionally draining nature of the divorce process. However, it is important to seek the support of others during this time and avoid emotionally retreating from your friends and family. Talking with others about your situation and asking for help is a healthy way to cope with your divorce.

2. Begin Emotionally Grieving

A divorce is the end of a marriage, and some may say that it is a type of death. This means that it is only natural for you to grieve. Healthy grieving means accepting that there will be a healing process following your divorce. It is okay to be sad, but it is important for you to realize that even though the healing process is tough, peace will come if you allow it to.

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Winfield divorce lawyerWhen your marriage is falling apart, you are likely to experience a great deal of emotional difficulty as you struggle to decide whether your relationship can be saved or whether it is best to end the marriage and move on. While making the decision to get divorced can bring some measure of relief, the actual process of divorce can be incredibly stressful as you work to separate your life from your ex-spouse and deal with the various legal issues which must be settled. 

As you work to complete your divorce, it is important to pay attention to the effects that stress can have on your health and well-being. Here are some of the common effects that stress can have on both your body and your mind:

  • Anxiety and depression - Uncertainty about the future and worries about finances can cause anxiety to those who are going through divorce. In addition, the major life changes you will experience, such as moving to a new home and adjusting to spending less time with your children, can result in feelings of depression.
  • Insomnia - The stress of divorce, as well as changing schedules, routines, and living situations, often cause people to have difficulty sleeping. Unfortunately, lack of sleep often causes a further increase in stress.
  • Weight gain or loss - Some people deal with stress by eating “comfort foods” that are often unhealthy, which can lead to weight gain. Others may lose their appetite or fail to eat regularly, leading to unhealthy weight loss.
  • Immunity - Stress can lead to a weakened immune system, and those who are going through a divorce may find that they are more susceptible to colds or the flu.
  • Substance abuse - Many people often turn to alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs to help them deal with the stress of divorce. While this may seem to provide some relief, it often ends up leading to increased levels of depression.

By recognizing these symptoms of stress, you can take steps to address them and create a healthy environment and routine for yourself as you work to build a new life after your divorce. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly are great ways to address the stress of divorce. You may also want to see a therapist to work on some strategies for coping with the depression or anxiety you may be experiencing.

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West Chicago division of marital assets lawyerNo couple expects their marriage will end in divorce when they first get married. The beginning of a marriage is a typically a time of peak trust and solidarity, with spouses willingly assuming the roles believed to contribute to a happy and successful union, “Until death do us part.” However, it is important for both spouses to understand their rights, especially when it comes to ownership of the assets they have acquired over the course of their marriage.

Even in a society that is gradually becoming less gendered in matters of economic opportunity, it is still common for one spouse to assume the role of income earner, and the other the role of stay-at-home parent. In such an arrangement, a knowledge gap may come to exist with regard to the marriage’s income, assets, liabilities, investments, and other financial information, with the income-earning spouse handling most financial matters and the stay-at-home parent focused on crucial parenting responsibilities, such as the education, healthcare, nutrition, and transport of the children. 

When the unthinkable happens and the marriage ends divorce, the stay-at-home parent must suddenly close this financial knowledge gap, prepare for life as both a parent and manager of finances, and ensure that he or she receives, in addition to all appropriate child support and spousal maintenance, an equitable portion of the marriage’s assets. When there exists reason to suspect that the income earning spouse is not cooperating in the equitable division required under state law, it is necessary to utilize the legal process of income discovery.

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West Chicago contested divorce attorneyDuring divorce, spouses must address and settle a wide variety of legal issues related to how they will divide the various aspects of their shared lives into two separate households. The agreement or lack thereof with regard to these important issues speaks to whether the divorce is “contested” or “uncontested.” When a divorce is contested, it is important for spouses to understand the steps they must take as they work to reach a resolution. 

Addressing the Issues Which Must Be Resolved During Divorce 

Whether a divorce is contested or uncontested in Illinois, the dissolution of the marriage is a formal process that begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and ends with an action by a court of law. A divorce cannot be finalized until all outstanding legal issues are resolved. With regard to a contested divorce in Illinois, the subject matter in contest (in dispute) includes some or all of the following:

  • Allocation of Parental Responsibility (formerly known as Child Custody)
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Support
  • Property Division

With regard to parental responsibility, allegations of capacity or fitness-related deficiencies may be leveled by one party, accusing the other of failing to meet their parental responsibilities or a pattern of unlawful immoral activity (e.g., addiction-related issues). 

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West Chicago uncontested divorce lawyerWhen a marriage breaks down, and a couple decides to get divorced, they are likely to experience some emotional trauma, and their distress will only be compounded by uncertainty over the cost and procedures of legally dissolving their marital union. Fortunately, some anxiety can be avoided by informing oneself about divorce laws in Illinois. One thing divorcing spouses should be aware of is the difference between contested and uncontested divorce.

Understanding Contested Divorce in Illinois

In Illinois, the only grounds for divorce (that is, the legal requirement for ending a marriage) recognized by state law are “irreconcilable differences.” Rather than demonstrating a reason why the marriage should be dissolved, a person only needs to state in their divorce petition that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. If the couple does not agree that this is the case, irreconcilable differences will be presumed if they have lived “separate and apart” for at least six months.

Rather than describing a disagreement about the reasons for a divorce itself, a contested divorce occurs in Illinois when a couple disagrees about the legal issues that they must resolve as they go about dissolving their partnership. If a divorce is truly uncontested, and the spouses agree on all matters, they may attend a court hearing to finalize their divorce decree and complete the divorce process. However, it is likely that even if spouses are in agreement about most issues, some issues will be contested, and these issues must be resolved before the divorce can be completed.

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DuPage County divorce attorney division of marital propertyDivorce is common, an outcome dissolving between 40 and 60% of marriages in the United States. Importantly, the laws governing divorce are state-specific, meaning that, if you were married in Illinois, live in Illinois, and will divorce in Illinois, it will be Illinois law that applies to the division of marital property. When dividing property during divorce, Illinois law utilizes a principle of “equitable distribution.” 

Equitable distribution demands that all marital property – property acquired by either spouse while married – be divided fairly and equitably. Importantly, however, “fairly and equitably” does not necessarily equate to “equally.” Rather, the courts will attempt to divide property in a fair and just manner.

Marital Property May Include More Than You Realize

Cash, cars, and houses are three items that may spring to mind when contemplating the assets of a marriage. However, marital property often contains a far greater diversity of assets (and, in many cases, liabilities such as credit card debts) than a bank balance, residence, and means of transportation. 

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Winfield divorce attorney unfit parentWhen a divorce is contentious and can only be resolved through litigation rather than mediation, allegations concerning a parent’s “fitness” to raise a child can often be a flash point. “You are not fit to raise our child” are words that cut deep and may turn an already hostile process into the most bitter of contests. If you believe that your ex-spouse is unfit to raise your child, know that parental fitness is a legal question. In other words, you cannot unilaterally decide that your ex-spouse is unfit as a parent. Lack of fitness is a multi-factor inquiry that is considered formally and has important legal ramifications.  

Illinois Law Provides Criteria By Which to Establish If a Parent Is Unfit

On the ground in the real world, there are words that speak clearly to a lack of parental fitness: abuse, addiction, incarceration, and psychological instability, to name but a few. These blights on the welfare of a child are the true metrics by which the state of Illinois evaluates whether one or both parents of a child are legally unfit to have parental responsibility for their child. Here, the toughest of questions are asked: 

  • Does the parent have a substance abuse problem?
  • Has the parent physically abused the child?
  • Has the parent sexually abused the child?
  • Has the parent psychologically abused the child?
  • Has the parent been convicted of crimes of abuse? 

Obviously, a pattern of severe abuse will trend sharply towards a finding that an abusive parent is an unfit parent.

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DuPage County divorce lawyer for parenting time and parental responsibilityThanksgiving is only a few weeks away, and many families are currently making plans for the holidays. For recently divorced parents and their children, this season can be a stressful and even contentious time of year. The transition to living in separate households and abiding by custody and visitation arrangements can be difficult when children are used to spending holidays under the same roof. While parents and children need time to adjust to new arrangements, parents can decrease post-divorce stress and anxiety during the holiday season by staying informed about their parental responsibility rights. 

Child Custody vs. Parental Responsibility 

In educating yourself about Illinois child custody, it is important to know that, though the state has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which most states have used to define jurisdictional matters related to child custody, it uses the specific terminology of “allocation of parental responsibility” with regard to laws and processes concerning custody. Here, the thinking is that the new terminology at once resists contentiousness and promotes collaboration in arriving at a custody arrangement that is agreeable to divorced parents and children alike. 

Parental Responsibility and Parenting Time

In Illinois law, parental responsibility concerns the right to direct the upbringing of the child. Parental responsibility is about decision-making, specifically with regard to the areas of health, education, religion, and extracurricular activities. Making decisions about a child’s healthcare, where and how they will be schooled, whether or not they will attend church or participation in religious, and the types of extracurricular activities they will be allowed to engage in are all tremendously important matters – ones that bear heavily on a child’s formative years. In some cases, one parent or guardian may have sole responsibility in any or all of these areas. However, it is also possible for parents to work out an agreement in which they share responsibility for making important decisions. 

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Wheaton postnuptial agreement attorneyMost people are familiar with the concept of a “prenuptial agreement.” A legally binding agreement between two prospective spouses, a prenuptial agreement stipulates in advance how the assets and liabilities of the soon-to-be-married couple will be distributed in the event the marriage ends in divorce. Such agreements are relatively common when there is a sizeable age or wealth gap between prospective spouses, or when children from previous unions will be brought together by the new marriage. 

Despite the statistic that between 40 and 50% of U.S. marriages end in divorce, prenuptial agreements remain a rather touchy subject, perhaps because they are perceived as “unromantic” – the possible end of the marriage is the last thing one wants to contemplate prior to uttering the words “til death do us part.” Given the statistics, such a dismissive attitude is problematic. Prenuptial agreements, and their post-union counterpart, postnuptial agreements, are worth giving serious consideration to. With the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, it is possible to craft a pre- or postnuptial agreement without introducing excessive tension into a relationship. Really, it is just sensible planning.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Are Legal Contracts

Because prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are contracts much like any other – a meeting of the minds in the form of offer and acceptance, and supplemented with consideration – it is imperative that one rely on an experienced family law attorney to do the drafting of the contract. Moreover, if tension does arise in the process of contemplating and executing a pre- or postnuptial agreement, an attorney certified in mediation will work to bring everyone together towards a mutually agreeable resolution.

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Warrenville divorce parenting agreement attorneyDivorce is a foundation-rupturing event, especially for spouses who have children together. Whole worlds are upended for all involved – parents, children, and even grandparents and friends. Day-to-day life, living arrangements, holiday plans, and so much more are all subject to change in the wake of the dissolution of a marriage. This is especially the case when both spouses move out of what had been the family home or apartment, whether to new residences in the same town or city, or to a new state or even new country. 

When the spouses have children, parental responsibility (formerly known as child custody) must be allocated between the parents. In some cases, one spouse is awarded primary parental responsibilities in the areas of healthcare, education, religion, and extracurricular activities. In most cases, however, parental responsibility is shared between the parents. 

As you are surely already aware if you divorced, separated, or even considering a divorce or separation, working out an agreement for the allocation of parental responsibilities can be a complex matter, and in some instances, it can be an unfortunately contentious process. Here, a court approved parenting plan is a must. With so much already on your plate in terms of adjusting to life changes caused by a divorce, an experienced divorce and family law attorney is a valuable resource who can help craft a parenting plan that is compliant with the requirements of Illinois law.

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