Divorce and parental separation is a highly stressful experience for everyone involved but children will often feel that their entire world has fallen apart. Younger school age children are most vulnerable, but research has indicated that it is traumatic for children of any age to witness the demise of their parent’s marriage and the break up of the family they’ve known all their lives. Children may react with anger and destructive behavior. It is not uncommon for children to internalize the process and blame themselves for their parents’ problems.
Making your children your top priority as you navigate the divorce process can dramatically reduce your children’s pain and suffering. Patience, reassurance and a calm demeanor can minimize tension as the child learns how to cope with the transition and the unfamiliar. Established routines help create stability and structure for the children’s lives. If at all possible, attempt to establish a working relationship with your ex and keep all disagreements with your spouse away from the children. It is important for children to be able to avoid the stress and anguish that results from witnessing their parents in conflict. With parental guidance and support, a child may successfully navigate the period of transition and hopefully emerge feeling loved, strong, protected and confident.
As a Court Appointed Children’s Representative in Cook County for over 25 years, I have extensive knowledge regarding children and divorce to share with my clientele. Call 847-675-7570 to set up a confidential interview.
When a client seems hesitant or vague during a initial divorce intake conference, I often ask them whether they still love their spouse. In many cases, the answer is yes. It is not the lack of love that preceded their entry into the divorce arena but the lack of being able to attain and maintain common goals with effective communication skills. Parenting skills that are unequal and parenting time that is disproportionate may stress the marriage. Lack of quality time with your spouse may leave you lonely. There are many different scenarios and reasons but let’s keep this simple.
Three questions to ask yourself:
- Have I exhausted every avenue to save my marriage and is spousal counselling an option? Both spouses need to want to save the marriage for counselling to work. Sometimes, the differences are far too ingrained to be resolved. But, then again, a qualified marriage counselor may have solutions that can help the spouses reconcile their differences in a productive way. If the couple decides separation is imminent, a family counselor in place can assist the couple though the divorce process and help them resolve issues collaboratively. Amicable divorces are less stressful, less painful and less expensive. Equitable and Compassionate uncoupling, if possible, has both long and short term advantages.
- Am I in an abusive relationship? If your spouse has a substance abuse problem or is physically or psychologically abusive, skip to the next question. Get educated. You cannot save someone who is not willing to save themselves, no matter how much you love them or how much you put up with. What you can do is make a decision to seek a better life.
- What do I know about divorce? Often a spouse has no idea what the divorce process requires and what to expect when the marriage is over. Where will I live? Can I get support? When will I have the children? Can I stay in our home? Can I move to another state? You will have many questions. Property accrued during the marriage, with a few exceptions, will be divided. If you have children, the questions can seem as endless as they are frightening. In marriages where the spouses have equal earnings, the results may be less stressful financially than when one spouse is a homemaker and there is only one paycheck to divide into two future homes. It is often wise, before you say anything to your spouse, to research divorce in your state. The internet is an unlimited resource in this respect. Or, you can set up a conference with an experienced lawyer who concentrates in family law. Family law attorneys have more knowledge on the subject than a general practitioner or someone who does a divorce once in a while. Please choose your counselor carefully.
I cannot stress how valuable professional counselling, both legal and psychological, is when having to make this life altering decision. We are accustomed to helping our clients navigate themselves from what is probably the lowest point in their lives. We’ve learned how to help our client’s cope with the pain of transition and the uncertainty of a future life. Help is here when you need it.
Being a divorce lawyer who witnesses the painful looks on faces often, I understand the disappointment, the anger and the fear. The stark reality is that divorce law is blind to the broken heart. Although our statutes dictate the processes by which marriage is ended and property divided, it is impossible to legislate the process by which we emotionally heal. Financial prudence sometimes requires tough choices and a client might be required to negotiate property rights and children’s visitation schedules while deep relationship wounds continue to throb. Wounds only heal by degrees and that process is often slower than the duration of the average divorce. My simple advice:
Customarily, it does not matter who initiates the divorce in Illinois. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Statute at 750 ILCS 5/503(d) provides that the conduct of a spouse should not effect how property is distributed in a divorce. There are limited exceptions to this rule and other legal approaches to recoup losses in circumstances such as when a spouse has gambled away hard earned marital savings. The Court will look for fair and just solutions in family law, but that does not mean always mean equal. Look at the following image:
This is a cautionary blog.
Your behavior on Facebook and other social media may have a bearing on your divorce and the future custody of your children. ABCNews.com has reported that approximately one-third of divorce filings in 2011 included the word FACEBOOK in them. The article further disclosed that more than 80 percent of divorce attorneys report that social networking behavior is finding its way into divorce proceedings.
Kristin and I are so excited about our new website. We hope to post new and relevant information often. Don’t forget to check out our Facebook Pages including Focus Forward Family Law.