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Lake County Family Law Blog

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.

Think twice about keeping a joint mortgage after divorce

If you are getting divorced in Illinois and your spouse is pushing hard to keep your family home, you will want to be very careful about reviewing some facts before you agree to this. If you and your partner have young children who still live at home, you may find it easy to understand why the other parent wants to keep the house so that your kids will be able to have some continuity in their lives amidst a lot of other changes.

However, no matter how strong this emotional tug is, The Mortgage Reports recommends that you step back for a moment and assess the situation financially instead. Imagine for a moment that you agree to give your spouse the home and you receive some other asset. You might get a quit claim deed showing that the home is fully owned by your spouse and this may also be documented in your divorce decree. If your spouse does not refinance the mortgage into their name only you will nonetheless remain financially liable for the home.

Can I refuse to let my ex have visitation with the kids?

Shared parenting can be challenging for you and other divorced parents in Illinois. You may have numerous reasons you do not want to send your children to visit their other parent. However, do you have the right to withhold visitation?

The family law courts consider it important for children to maintain a relationship with both parents, in most cases. However, the thought of sharing the parenting duties could leave you with misgivings. The following situations are common reasons parents might try to prevent the other one from having visits with the kids:

  • The other parent is behind on child support payments.
  • The children are protesting the idea of visiting the other parent.
  • The non-custodial parent has a history of substance abuse or domestic violence.
  • Both parents have significantly different views on how to raise children.
  • The non-custodial parent has previously violated his or her end of the custody agreement.
  • The custodial parent is holding a grudge or wants to “get back” at the other parent by preventing him or her from seeing the children.

Grandparents with custody face different challenges

It can be difficult raising a grandchild. At the Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C., we understand that there are many older residents in Illinois and elsewhere who are raising their children’s children. If you are a custodial grandparent, you face numerous challenges, both physical and emotional, that are different from when you raised your own children.

It is not unusual for grandparents to have child-raising responsibilities. U.S. News and World Report states that in 2015, 2.9 million children across the country lived solely with their grandparents, a significant rise from previous years. You and other grandparents may have temporary or permanent custody of your grandchildren for reasons ranging from the death of one or both parents, parental divorce, substance addiction, child abuse, mental problems or financial difficulties.

Divorce and depression: the lesser discussed obstacle

Severing ties in any relationship can be upsetting, but a divorce presents an entirely different world of stress. Even after the process is said and done, the psychological effects can last for months, and even years. The following takes a look at some strategies suggested by professionals to help newly divorced Californians get through this difficult life chapter.

In the whirlwind of paperwork, child custody plans and the search for new living spaces, it can become all too easy to forget about mental health. Psychology Today shares that one way to combat the tough emotional hurdles post-divorce is to remain active; this can be both physically and mentally. By occupying the mind with plans and positive thoughts, the newly divorced can put the past in the past. Dovetailing from this step, PT also encourages readers to seek out new communities. A divorce can seem to drain one's youth in a matter of months, so why not revitalize a new hobby or pastime?    

How should I spend my children’s child support money?

You might receive a great deal of unsolicited advice during your divorce. One topic that may cause you frustration is the issue of child support. As you know, the money you receive from your ex-spouse is meant for the benefit of your children. Your ex and others may have ideas on how you should spend the money. You and other custodial parents in Illinois may wonder if the courts or ex-spouses have any say in how you spend child support.

FindLaw explains that in normal cases, nobody can tell the receiving parent how to spend child support. In fact, acceptable uses for this money are widely varied, but they boil down to your children’s physical and emotional well-being. You might spend a portion of your child support check on household essentials, such as toilet paper, toothpaste, food and cleaning supplies. You could use it to pay rent and utilities, thus keeping your children comfortable with a roof over their heads. You may spend child support on school supplies, tutoring, extracurricular activities and clothing. You might also need it for medicine and doctor visits.

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