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Kane County divorce attorney for parental alienationThe decision to end a marriage can be difficult for many reasons. In many cases, spouses may be unhappy for a long time but hesitant to end the relationship if they have a family. Studies show that the stress of a divorce can significantly impact a couple’s children. This can manifest itself in various ways, such as manipulative behavior by one or both parents. The concept of parental alienation syndrome (PAS) was first introduced by psychiatrist Richard Gardner in the 1980s. This typically occurs during or after a divorce when one parent psychologically manipulates a child into exhibiting unwarranted fear, disrespect, or hostility toward the other parent. In some cases, the manipulative parent’s ultimate goal is that the child will reject the other parent and want nothing to do with him or her. After your divorce, it is important to recognize signals that indicate PAS might be occurring to protect your child’s well-being as well as your rights to custody and parenting time.

Symptoms of Psychological Abuse

It may be natural for a child to exhibit some hostility or sadness when his or her parents split up, regardless of the child’s age. However, parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse that can have devastating effects on a child as well as the parent who is being alienated. Some of the signs and symptoms that a child may be subjected to this include the following behaviors: 

  • Poor self-esteem
  • Angry outbursts toward the targeted parent and other family members
  • Inconsistent sleep patterns 
  • Eating disorders
  • Problems in school (academic or behavioral)

Manipulative Behaviors 

When a parent is actively trying to make his or her child “take sides” in a divorce, he or she may do certain things to accomplish this objective. Below are a few examples of what a parent might do to instill negative thoughts or feelings about his or her ex in a child’s mind:

Geneva family law attorney for annulmentThere are millions of married couples in Illinois and throughout the United States. However, not all marriages last. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. Many people may equate a divorce with an annulment or even a legal separation, but they are not the same thing. In a divorce, a couple will seek to dissolve a valid marriage. In an annulment, the marriage is ruled as invalid, as if it never happened. Some people assume that an annulment is easier to obtain than a divorce, but that is not always true. Annulments can have stricter requirements and time limits when compared to a divorce. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is essential that you hire professional legal counsel to fully understand your legal options.    

Declaration of Invalidity 

It is important to note that an annulment is not the same thing as a divorce or legal separation. When married couples legally separate, they live apart but are still technically married in the eyes of the law. An annulment is a way for two people who are in a fraudulent or invalid marriage to legally leave the marriage by essentially voiding it. A marriage can be deemed invalid for various reasons, including if one party was unable to consent to the union due to:

  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Coercion
  • Incest
  • Bigamy
  • Inability to consummate the marriage
  • Being underage at the time of the wedding

A marriage can only be annulled if the court issues a Declaration of Invalidity. An invalid marriage represents an illegal relationship and is therefore not recognized by the state. 

Kane County child custody attorneyGetting a divorce is likely to be a stressful time in your life. As you go about the process of separating from your spouse, you will need to divide a variety of things, including both the property you own and the time you spend with your children. While your marital property will be divided based on what is fair and equitable, decisions about children are based on what is in their best interests, and the final decisions are set down in a document called a parenting plan.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

In Illinois, the laws regarding child custody contain some terms that may be unfamiliar to parents. In 2016, the terms “custody” and “visitation” were removed from Illinois family laws and replaced by “parental responsibility” and “parenting time.” A parenting plan created during divorce will address these issues, providing a framework for how matters related to children will be handled going forward. A parenting plan should include a variety of elements, including how parents will divide or share decision-making responsibilities for children, a specific schedule of when children will spend time with each parent, and rules for how parents will communicate with each other. If parents cannot agree with each other about the terms of their parenting plan, then the judge will make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the child.

You may be worried about the prospect of working together with your ex-spouse to create a parenting plan that you can both agree on. Determining how to handle the many issues that must be addressed can be overwhelming, especially since life can be unpredictable, and you do not know what the next several years will hold. However, by following these tips, you can create a successful parenting plan that meets your family’s needs:

Kane County family law attorneysYou have worked very hard for many years to accumulate significant assets which you assumed would fund your retirement. Whether you have a fully-vested pension plan, 401(k), IRA, or other investments accounts, those funds will likely be waiting for you when you retire—unless you get divorced. Retirement investments, like any other asset, may be considered marital property and, therefore, would be subject to division between you and your spouse in the event of divorce. There are several ways in which retirement accounts may be considered in divorce, including one that may require the use of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO.

Dividing or Offsetting

Depending upon when you first began contributing to your retirement funds, all of your investments may not be subject to division. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, only the portion that accumulated during your marriage is considered marital property. You might need the help of a financial professional to establish the value of the investment prior to the marriage, so that only the correct portion is considered during the divorce process. Once that has been done, you, your spouse, and the court need to determine how, or even if, the investments will be divided.

If you and your spouse possess other significant assets such as homes, vehicles, or non-retirement savings, you may be able to negotiate a deal in which you keep your entire retirement investment. This could be even more likely if each of you already has a separate pension or 401(k). Instead of complicating matters by splitting benefits that will not be payable for years, you may, for example, be permitted to keep your pension, while your spouse is allocated a larger share of your marital cash holdings.

Kane County family law attorneysToday’s world is, in many ways, more connected than ever before. Thanks to the rise of digital and online technology, it has never been easier to look for new employment or educational opportunities that may exist far from your current home. For some people, it is also relatively easy to pick up and move to a new city or state in search of a better life, but this is not the case for everyone. If you are divorced, separated, or unmarried and you and your child’s other parent share parental responsibilities, moving to a new area can be rather complicated.

How Far Is Too Far?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that any move that qualifies as a “relocation” must be approved by the court in advance. A relocation is any move by a parent with half or more of the parenting time with the child that exceeds a certain radius from the current home. If you currently live in Kane County—or Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, or Will County—an in-state move of more than 25 miles is a relocation. If you currently live in any other county, a relocation is any in-state move of over 50 miles. Finally, if you live anywhere in Illinois and move more than 25 miles to a new out-of-state home, the move is considered a relocation.

Why Is Approval Needed?

The law requires you to obtain the court’s permission for a relocation to ensure that the rights of your child’s other parent are not being unduly compromised. The other parent—in most cases—has the right to reasonable parenting time with your child and the new geographical distance can present major challenges. Obtaining the court’s approval can be relatively easy if the other parent does not object to your proposed relocation. If you are able to negotiate a new parenting time plan that allows for a continued relationship between the other parent and your child, the move will likely be allowed to proceed. If the other parent does not agree and you still wish to pursue the relocation, you will need to convince the court that move serves your child’s best interests.

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