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Is My Co-Parent Purposely Damaging My Relationship with Our Child?When parents get divorced, their ongoing relationship can be tricky to navigate. Unlike other divorced couples, co-parents do not have the option of living completely separate lives. Maybe they spend time with their kids together or perhaps they only communicate regarding parenting arrangements and other necessary decisions. While it is always advisable to have an amicable co-parenting relationship, this is not always the case. In fact, some parents will go so far as to create a division in the relationship between their child and their co-parent in a tactic known as parental alienation.

What is Parental Alienation?

The term parental alienation syndrome (PAS) was coined in 1985 by child psychologist Richard Gardner to describe the behaviors seen in a child when they are subjected to parental alienation. When one parent discredits the child’s other parent, this can directly influence the child’s relationship with the discredited parent. The words and actions that are done to damage this relationship are known as parental alienation. This can come in many forms, a common example being one parent telling the child that their other parent does not love them or care about them. He or she can also provide in-depth details of why their marriage failed in an attempt to turn their child against their other parent. The severity of parental alienation tactics can vary and may not always be intentional. However, these criticisms can leave a lasting, damaging impact on the quality of the child-parent relationship.

Signs of PAS

Parental alienation syndrome is not an officially recognized mental health condition, but a court may acknowledge one parent’s efforts to damage the other parent’s relationship with their child. If you have suspicions that your child is being subjected to parental alienation, look for the following signs:

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If My Ex Remarries, Am I Still Obligated to Pay Spousal Support?After your divorce proceedings are finalized and all the dust settles, it can sometimes still feel as if you have marital obligations to your former spouse. Spousal support is often a requirement for divorced couples, and if you share children, you will continue to communicate and see each other in the years to come. Spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, is the financial support from the higher-earning spouse to the other. Oftentimes, these payments are made monthly and the allotted amount is determined and mandated by the court. All spousal support agreements vary, both in amount and timeline, and you may be wondering how long the payments will go on. As the years go by, this financial assistance can begin to seem unnecessary, especially if your former spouse is in a serious relationship with someone new. Luckily, Illinois law addresses the instances that warrant spousal support adjustments or termination for situations such as these.

Adjusting Spousal Support Obligations

Is the possibility of marriage on your former spouse’s horizon? This situation arises for many divorced couples and warrants adjustments to your spousal support obligations. According to Illinois law, there are three situations that warrant immediate termination of spousal support obligations: the death of either spouse, the remarriage of the receiving spouse, or if the receiving spouse begins cohabitating with another person. Because the purpose of alimony is to help the lower-earning spouse stay afloat, if a new spouse comes into the picture, then the financial assistance is no longer necessary. 

If your spouse does not remarry, but you believe that you have a case to modify your spousal support obligations, it is best to discuss your situation with a divorce attorney to verify that it qualifies for an adjustment. According to Illinois law, spousal maintenance obligations may be modified or terminated if the paying party can prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances, such as the following:

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4 Tips For Creating a Successful Parenting Plan For Your TeenFiling for divorce when you and your spouse share children together always makes things more complicated. Add in the challenges of raising a teenager and the process only becomes more difficult. Divorcing as a parent requires additional legal considerations to be made, including the drafting of a parenting plan. If you and your spouse are involved in a collaborative divorce, you will be able to build this plan together as you see fit. The unpredictability of kids when they are in their teenage years may leave you feeling overwhelmed when trying to determine what is best for your child moving forward. The following four tips can help you tailor your parenting plan to meet the needs of your teenager and maintain a relationship with them even though they may be living under two separate roofs:

  1. The More Detailed, The Better – Without a detailed plan in place, things can quickly go awry. Be sure to have a parenting schedule that outlines when your child will be with each parent and determines which holidays will be spent where. Since your child is of the age where they have their own circle of friends and life outside of your home, penciling in designated family time can make sure that your teen is still spending time with each parent.
  2. Consider Their Schedules – When creating your detailed schedule, it is important to take your teen’s schedule into account. Your child is at the point in their life where they have their own interests and activities. Failing to consider these key parts of their life will not end well. Have a copy of you, your spouse, and your child’s schedules in hand while designating each parent’s scheduled time.
  3. Financial Implications – Your teenager comes with some significant costs, especially if they do not have a job. Those over the age of 16 will need financial assistance for academic and social activities and college tuition costs if they intend on going in that direction. Consider these incoming costs and outline who will be responsible for what to avoid future conflicts in this area.
  4. Life Changes – You should include a clause regarding how things may change within your parenting plan and how you and your co-parent will make these decisions. The life of a teenager changes from day-to-day. From their academic responsibilities to their social lives, your teen is only going to become busier and more independent as the years go on. Take this into account when creating your plan so that you are prepared for any changes that may come your way.

Contact a Joliet Family Lawyer For Help

Whether you are in the process of filing for divorce or need help adjusting your parenting plan to meet your teen’s needs, The Foray Firm is here to help. Divorce is an emotionally taxing experience, especially when you have a teenager who has grown up with married parents up until this point. The best way to handle your divorce when you have a child is to have a detailed plan in place. Our Will County family attorneys believe in preserving the dignity of families, even in the instance of divorce. For help with your parenting plan, contact our Joliet divorce attorneys at 312-702-1293.

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How to Successfully Co-Parent After a Contentious DivorceRarely do couples walk away from their spouse without some conflict arising in the divorce process. For some, the property division process can reveal hidden assets or greedy intentions that you never experienced with your spouse throughout your marriage. For parents, deciding their future parental arrangements can bring out an ugly side of them. You may argue over who will be the primary parent, what legal rights you each have, or how often each parent will spend time with the kids. Whether you deliberate over every little detail or have one, large argument that damages your relationship further, it can be difficult to move forward as co-parents. With a combination of good communication and self-recognition, you and your co-parent can begin to transform your damaged romantic past into a well-working, co-parenting relationship.

Self Responsibility

As silly as it may sound, taking good care of yourself – mentally, physically, and emotionally – can in turn improve the way that you treat others. It is important to recognize your successes and faults from your marriage so that you can make progress moving forward. Many divorcees will continue to blame their ex for the breakdown of their marriage and age-old arguments will never be left in the past. If you do not take the time to heal or work on yourself, your past can continue to damage your future relationship with your former spouse. 

Focus on Common Goals

The reason that you and your spouse filed for divorce was a lack of romantic or lifestyle compatibility, not your inability to care for your kids. Even if you still see and do things differently in the parenting department, recognizing that you have a common goal – your child’s happiness – can help bring you back to the real purpose of your continued relationship. If you both acknowledge that your child is your priority, this can help mitigate any other disagreements that you may have about how to raise your child.

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What Happens to the House During an Illinois Divorce?Looking back on your life with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, it can be emotional to imagine the big steps that you have taken together — buying your first home, moving in together, and making memories under its roof. For many, homes can be a symbol of love, family, and security. For those considering divorce, their home can still represent all of these things, which makes it difficult to determine what you should do with it. Is one of you adamant about keeping the home or are you both looking for a fresh start? Depending on you and your spouse’s circumstances, there are a number of options available to you during the asset division process.

Equitable Division

Illinois is an equitable division state when it comes to marital property division. In other words, you and your spouse’s belongings will be divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. A number of factors, such as each spouse’s income and savings, will be considered when determining who gets what. For most couples, their home is their largest asset, making it a prized possession during asset division. Couples involved in a collaborative divorce can determine how they would like things to be handled, while those involved in litigation will have a judge make this decision for them. Regardless, there are a few common options available if your intention is to keep the house and not sell it.

Divide the Large Assets

For couples that have a number of large assets, such as a vacation home, expensive cars, or a large stock portfolio, they may decide to allot certain assets to each other. One spouse gets the marital home, while the other gets the vacation home. Since one spouse is typically more inclined to keep the marital home than the other, this can often be an easy decision to make. If you and your spouse have kids, the custodial parent will usually stay in the home with their kids, while the other parent finds a new place to live.

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