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Bloomington Divorce Blog

How can I be a better father?

35849203_S.jpgBeing a good dad is more important than ever after a divorce. Many fathers struggle during this period, and as a result, they have concerns that they're not maintaining a strong enough relationship with their kids. Very Well Family offers the following tips in this case, which can help fathers navigate the post-divorce period with aplomb. 

Divorce is a huge life change for all involved. While it's sometimes impossible to do so, it's best for fathers to stay as close to possible to their children after a divorce has occurred. It's much harder to be an effective parent from a great distance, especially when contending with things like work and school schedules. If you're moving out of the family home, look for a new place that is close to your kids so you can be available when they need you. Even driving your children to and from school each day offers a rich opportunity for bonding. 

Does child custody really work?

28542542_S.jpgGetting divorced from your spouse in Illinois may leave you facing some unique challenges that must be carefully navigated to allow you to make effective long-term decisions that will better your life. One complicated factor you may be dealing with is child custody and establishing boundaries between you and your ex that still allow your children to benefit from a healthy relationship with both of their parents. 

While the idea of a functional child custody agreement may seem far-fetched at first, there are certain actions that you can take to support the arrangement that has been made and enable it to work as effectively as possible. To begin, keep in mind that a beneficial custody arrangement will require compromise and flexibility on behalf of both you and your ex. There will undoubtedly be times when the agreement has to be modified to account for unique life circumstances in your own life and that of your ex. You may also not be able to have everything you desire in terms of caring for your children, but recognizing that from the start can help you prioritize the things you do want. 

Woman prepares to take custody case to Supreme Court

60523593_S.jpgAny standard child custody case in Bloomington can be rife with complexities. Throw in the matter of jurisdiction, and a matter can suddenly become a case study in reviewing legal precedents. One can only imagine how much more complicated a case can become when questions of jurisdiction (or even "home state" affiliation) cross international boundaries. Suddenly, what may have been a case of a parent simply taking their children back to their home countries can become an international abduction that requires not only the collaboration of international legal teams, but also that of government officials. 

An Ohio-area mother bringing her newborn home shortly after her birth has touched off just such a case. The woman had the child with her then-husband in Italy. Yet troubles in their marriages prompted her to return home. The baby's father responded to her move by saying that his daughter had been abducted. Lower court rulings in Ohio upheld his claim, saying that given that the girl was born in Italy, that country was her habitual residence, and she therefore must be returned there. The mother is planning on taking her case to the U.S. Supreme Court, relying on a defense that in cases where a child has not had time to establish a habitual residence, the area that should be considered as such should be decided on by the parents. 

How do you have a friendly divorce?

24141124_S.jpgCouples seeking divorce in Illinois are almost sure to face some emotional challenges. If the divorce becomes contentious, that makes the proceedings much harder, both mentally and financially. An article in Psychology Today provides some tips for a collaborative divorce.

One suggestion is to look at the divorce as a gradual process, instead of one single event. Do not wait until after the settlement agreement is signed to start seeking emotional closure. Begin accepting that the relationship has ended well ahead of settlement negotiations. This will help you maintain a clear head and make the best decisions.

Is divorce mediation cheaper than going to court?

60259132_S.jpgDivorcing couples often feel anxious about many aspects of their upcoming separation, not the least of which is the drain the divorce will put on their pocketbooks. This is why a number of Illinois couples will look for cheaper alternatives than going to court, with divorce mediation considered one of those less expensive routes. Here are some reasons why mediation does not cost as much as litigious divorces.

Money Crashers points out that, per Mediate.com, a typical divorce that goes through the court system will cost an average amount of $15,000. An average divorce that goes through mediation, by contrast, runs up a typical charge of just $3,000. The reduction in costs is due to a variety of factors, including the simplification of the mediation process as compared to a court trial and the reduced cost of mediation services as opposed to legal representation in court.

Visitation: What it means and why Illinois courts may grant it

64839260_S.jpgTypically speaking, Illinois family courts will award both parties of a divorce custody of the child or children. Joint custody is the preferred custody setup, as it grants both parents equal decision-making rights and ample time with the child. Visitation, on the other hand, is one of the least favorable options.

According to FindLaw, the Illinois courts may choose to restrict one or both parents' parenting time by awarding visitation if it believes that doing so will prevent serious endangerment to the child. The courts may determine that serious endangerment exists if a parent's conduct leading up to or during a divorce or custody case is such that it would adversely affect the child's emotional development. Generally speaking, for the courts to award visitation over custody, one parent or another party must prove by a preponderance of evidence that a parent's exercise of parental rights would seriously endanger the child's mental, emotional, physical or moral health.  

Divorce and your financial future

80442519_S.jpgIllinois residents who have made the hard choice to get divorced must wrestle with many challenging steps through the process of reaching a final settlement. For families with children, certainly determining when each parent will have time with the kids may be one of the hardest elements of a divorce. When it comes time to focus on financial matters and how to split assets, emotions may run high as well especially when the topic of how to split debt arises.

Money Management International explains that if a particular debt is in one spouse's name only, that debt main remain the sole responsibility of that person. Any debts with both spouses listed, however, may need to be split just like assets. A mortgage or credit card account are two common examples of joint debts.

What is a divorce coach?

42150021_S (1).jpgEven if you opt for a collaborative process rather than litigation, divorce in Illinois can be a difficult process to navigate. A collaborative divorce requires both you and your spouse to hire an attorney to represent you. However, there are tasks involved in the process that are beyond the purview of a divorce attorney to perform. A divorce coach serves a different function than an attorney in a divorce proceeding, providing you with personalized encouragement, guidance and motivation throughout the process as an independent third party.

Divorce Magazine cites the American Bar Association in defining a divorce coach as someone who takes your particular needs, concerns and interests into consideration to help you make the best decisions for your future during the divorce process by means of a flexible, goal-oriented approach. You can identify the areas that you need help with during a divorce and ask your divorce coach to help you specifically with those issues. 

Singer jailed in Cook County over child support arrears

18433345_S.jpgIf asked, most divorced parents in Bloomington might say that they have no issue with paying child support. Even if they happen to harbor resentment towards their ex-spouses, they may understand that their child support payments are not meant for their ex-spouses' benefit, but rather to assist their children. Sadly, disputes between former spouses may ultimately lead to accusations of one withholding child support as a form of punishment. 

That is the accusation being made by the wife of singer R. Kelly. She claims that he has intentionally withheld this $20,000 per-month child support payment as a way of getting back at her. All told, Kelly allegedly owes almost $200,000 in child support arrears. He recently spent three days in a Cook County jail as a result of the missed payments after a judge ordered his arrest following him missing a scheduled payment deadline. 

Taxes and alimony agreements and modifications

35569836_S.jpgThis tax season is the first year that residents in Illinois will be filing returns based on a majorly revised tax code. The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has taken full effect and for divorcing or divorced couples, this law has ushered in some significant changes that you should be aware of.

As explained by MarketWatch, taxation for spousal support payments is getting a lot of attention these days. Historically, the person who received alimony was required to claim the money as income on their federal tax return. This meant that they were solely responsible for the income tax payments on those funds. In addition, the person who was ordered to pay alimony was able to deduct the amount from their return. This deduction often softened the blow for people required to pay spousal support.

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