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Geneva family law attorneyThe Real Housewives of Orange County star Kelly Dodd recently announced that she plans to file for divorce from her husband. Kelly Dodd and Michael Dodd have been married eleven years but according to Kelly, the marriage was not always perfect. She explained to US Weekly that the marriage had its ups and downs. The star also said that while she and her husband were good friends that they are just too different to continue being married. The Dodds have an 11-year-old daughter together that they plan to co-parent.

Personality Differences Can Spell Trouble for Couples

Fame and celebrity status aside, the Dodd family is not unlike many families in the United States. Many couples get married and have children together only to later discover that cannot peacefully coexist with one another. Contradictory personalities, arguments, different priorities and goals in life, and other sources of conflict can drive a wedge between the spouse in a marriage. After trying and failing to solve the marital problems and despite their best intentions, many couples ultimately reach the decision to divorce.

Kane County divorce attorneysCouples do not usually marry with the intent of someday divorcing. Yet divorce does happen each and every day. For couples, the experience may be stressful, painful, depressing, and emotionally taxing, but for children, the separation and upheaval of home and family can be downright traumatic. This is especially true when there is a lot of shaming, blaming, or arguing between parents.

Thankfully, there is a new trend emerging that is mindful, thoughtful, and intentional. More importantly, this new “trend” places the separating couple’s focus on a joint goal: successful and amicable co-parenting. This goal is so important that it takes precedence over any and all issues the parents may have with one another.

Doing Divorce the Right Way

child custody, coparenting, Geneva family law attorneyWe have all heard it a hundred times. Someone you know is going through a nasty divorce and, while they may spare you the details, it is often clear that your friend is determined to “win” at all costs. He or she feels wronged by the other spouse and may go to great lengths to get what feels like justice. In many cases, “winning” or “losing” is a financial or property value outcome, with the “winning” spouse getting a satisfactory share of the marital estate. For parents, however, the stakes are even higher, and in too many cases, children are used as leverage in the raging war between divorcing spouses. Thanks to recent updates to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, parents will be expected to adhere to a higher standard of cooperation and to remain invested in serving the child’s best interests, no matter what the relationship between the adults may be.

Allocated Parental Responsibilities

Whether we like to admit it or not, language is very powerful and the words we use can impact not only our message, but our psychological approach to the subject as well. Consider the idea of child custody. Under the existing law, legal custody is awarded as sole or joint custody, making each parent either a custodial parent or non-custodial parent. These titles can be extremely divisive, as a non-custodial parent, for example, may feel like he or she has been relegated to a second-class level of parenting.

communication, coparenting, Kane County Family Law AttorneyCooperative parenting after a divorce, or for parents who were never married, can most certainly be a challenge. Moreover, it is a long-term situation that will not simply “work itself out” without serious effort and a commitment to your child’s best interests. Relationship and parenting experts will point to communication as the most important factor in any coparenting situation, and there is little argument with that perspective. However, most tend to focus on the communication between parents, while, in practice, it is just as vital to communicate effectively with your child as well.

Particular Challenges for Non-Custodial Parents

In most separated-parent family arrangements, one parent—usually the parent with primary physical custody—will spend more time with the child than the other. The other—or non-custodial—parent does not necessarily love his or her child any less; it is just the nature of the situation that limits time together.

online safety, internet safety, child custody, coparentingYou may not be familiar with the term “coparenting,” but if you have a shared custody arrangement with your child’s other parent, you are probably already doing it. Coparenting refers to a cooperative effort between divorced, or otherwise separated, parents who have decided to work together in providing the best possible situation for their child. There are countless articles and helpful guides from experts on the most important aspects of coparenting or rules for doing it correctly, but they all seem to revolve around two basic concepts: communication and consistency.

Communication is vital, not only to maintaining that consistency, but to upholding the trust of both your ex-spouse and your child. Consistency helps your child feel secure in each parent’s home, as many rules and expectations remain the same. While some rules might be more bendable, such as getting to watch a little extra TV on a particular night, others should be less flexible, not only for the sake of discipline, but your child’s safety. If your child has reached an age where he or she has begun to utilize internet resources for research or entertainment, rules regarding online safety must be established as non-negotiable in both parents’ homes.

The United States Department of Justice, as well as child welfare organizations, offer some tips for keeping your child safe online:

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