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Lake County Family Law Blog

Benefits of alternative dispute resolution with children

Few divorces or family law issues are without conflict. However, at the Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C., we understand that you and other Illinois residents may want to minimize the amount of conflict you experience during a dispute, especially when you have children involved. If your disagreement involves your children, such as seeking custody during your divorce or asking for a modification to your current visitation schedule, how can you shield them from the conflict but still have a chance of resolving the argument to your satisfaction?

An alternative dispute resolution method may help, explains the American Bar Association. For example, you might consider cooperative law when going through your divorce, or mediation for your divorce or post-divorce issues. They are commonly called amicable or uncontested divorce and problem-solving methods because they increase your chances of reducing conflict and reaching agreements that benefit everyone.

What is the best way to handle a CPS visit?

A visit from child protective services is not only inconvenient, it can be worrisome for Illinois residents. When a social worker knocks at your door, it usually means someone had reason to believe your children were not being properly cared for and called CPS. Whether the call came from a concerned neighbor or a bitter ex, you have a legitimate worry while you figure out how to deal with the unexpected visit.

As you may know, the purpose of child protective services is to investigate when a child is suspected of being neglected or abused, and to intervene if CPS workers determine that the claims were valid. FindLaw explains that your children may be placed with relatives or a foster family if the CPS worker believes they are at risk in your home. You will be required to cooperate with the agency to get your children back.

Can I get retirement benefits from my ex-spouse?

If you supported your ex while he or she was going through college, and then stayed home to raise the children during your marriage, it’s understandable that you would feel cheated now that you are divorced and you can’t look forward to a secure retirement. You and other Illinois residents may wonder what to do now that retirement benefits seem to be off the table.

As you may know, Social Security retirement works when a portion of your paycheck has been put in your retirement fund throughout your years of employment. You might have a modest amount saved from a part-time job or while you worked before starting your family, but this isn’t nearly enough to get you through your golden years. However, your ex had a good job throughout your marriage, and you know he or she contributed a great deal toward retirement. As the Social Security Administration explains, you might be eligible to receive half of your ex’s retirement or disability benefits if you meet the following requirements:

  • You were married 10 years or longer.
  • The retirement benefits from your own work would be less than what you would get from your ex’s benefits.
  • You are at least 62 years of age before you seek retirement benefits from your ex’s account.

Why do-it-yourself divorces with children are dangerous

After years of marriage, you and your spouse agree to divorce. You worry about the associated costs with separation including buying new property, child support and even the division of your assets. You think that hiring an attorney to help you dissolve your marriage seems like an unnecessary expense.

Yet when dealing with children and custody, you prove devastatingly wrong. Although you and your ex-spouse agree that you want to share some custody, deciding this without the presence of an attorney may allow for confusion and heartache in determining a fair split. Especially when appearing in court for child custody arrangements, it is essential to have an experienced individual that fights for your custodial rights.

How to establish paternity in Illinois

At the Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, PC, we know how much fathers as well as mothers look forward to the birth of their children. But did you know that in Illinois, if you do not marry your children’s mother prior to their births, your children have no legal father? As the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services explains, without a marriage or civil union existing between your children’s parents at the time of their births, they have no legal father, even if you and their mother live together and intend to get married or enter into a civil union in the future.

Paternity is the legal relationship between you and your children. Unless you establish this relationship, your children cannot automatically receive your Social Security benefits if you become disabled or when you die, an inheritance from you when you die, your veterans benefits, or your health and life insurance benefits. Nor can you obtain custody of or visitation with them.

What can happen if I don’t pay child support?

Understandably, some Illinois non-custodial parents have difficulty making their child support payments. It can be expensive to pay your bills and live on a single income while supporting your children, as well. Other parents may resent having to pay or decide not to pay if they disagree with their ex’s parenting style or life decisions. However, it is never wise to purposefully withhold child support. You could face numerous legal consequences for doing so.

According to FindLaw, there are penalties for deliberate non-payment of child support in Illinois. If you decide on this route, you might face the following consequences:

  • You could be fined.
  • You might have your wages garnished and your tax refund intercepted to repay child support arrears.
  • You might end up with a lien against your property.
  • You could have your driver’s license and professional licenses suspended, as well as have your passport denied.
  • You might be ordered to perform community service or face jail time.
  • You could have your photograph and name placed on the Illinois deadbeat parent website.

The benefits of sole versus joint custody

Parents in Illinois will have to make a big decision after they divorce. They'll need to decide which child custody arrangements work best for their particular situation, and what will benefit their child the most, which can differ from family to family.

One potential option is joint custody. The Legal Dictionary defines this as the shared custody of a child between divorced parents. There are many benefits to this option. Not only is it the one championed by courts, but scientific studies have shown that children of joint custodies often have fewer problems adapting in the aftermath of a divorce than children of sole custody. It will give a child time to bond with both parents, and they will have two primary sources of support in their lives moving forward.

But my spouse never hits me. Am I a victim of abuse?

You have been aware for some time that your marriage seems worse than other unhappy marriages. Instead of just arguing and disagreeing frequently, your fights are intense and usually involve shouts, insults and even things being thrown. Your spouse has never physically struck you, though. Like other Illinois residents going through the same thing, you might wonder if this behavior qualifies as abuse.

Spousal abuse may seem cut-and-dry when it involves physical violence. However, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse methods are more insidious and difficult to recognize. A common denominator in most abusive relationships involves the abuser enforcing and maintaining control over his or her victim, as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence points out. Your spouse may avoid the domestic violence label by never hitting you, but could still be an abuser by exhibiting other behaviors, including the following:

  • Insulting, belittling and embarrassing you in front of others
  • Undermining your efforts or refusing to recognize your achievements
  • Making you feel as if you are never “good enough,” no matter how hard you try to please him or her
  • Frequently becoming enraged at the smallest provocation
  • Isolating you from your friends and family
  • Not allowing you to have a job or access to the internet, a phone or transportation

3 Tips if you are the “strict parent” after divorce

Has your divorce made your parenting style seem tyrannical? You’re not alone. It’s common for children to label one parent as more “strict” than the other—divorce or no divorce. However, especially in the case of the custodial parent, you may have no choice but to enforce rules more often.

There’s nothing wrong with setting rules and sticking to them. But if you’re beginning to feel like the “strict parent,” consider these tips:

Understanding Illinois adoption criteria

At the Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, PC, in Illinois, we understand how excited you feel about the prospect of adopting a child. This likely is something that you have thought about and wished to accomplish for a long time, especially if you cannot have biological children.

Illinois has very liberal adoption laws. Per Section 750 of the Illinois Code, all you need be in order to adopt a child is a “reputable person” 18 years or older who has lived in Illinois for at least six months. In some situations, the court will waive the residency requirement. If married, your spouse must petition for adoption with you.

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Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C.
900 North Shore Drive Suite 185
Lake Bluff, IL 60044

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