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Joliet family law attorneyThe stigmatization behind the term “mental illness” has been greatly reduced over the past few decades. Unlike in the past, being diagnosed with a mental illness is fairly common, and contrary to popular belief, the diagnosis does not necessarily impact your ability to perform everyday activities or hold responsibility. In the U.S. alone, nearly one in five adults live with a mental illness. 

If you are a parent whose former spouse or co-parent has a mental illness, you may be concerned about their ability to be there for your child. While having a mental illness is not enough to be considered incapable of parenting, if you have seen your co-parent’s mental health get in the way of their parenting capabilities, you may be wondering how to address this in court and have these concerns reflected in your parenting plan. With the help of a reputable attorney, you can have your concerns heard by the court and keep your child in safe hands. 

Levels of Mental Illness

Mental illnesses can come in many forms and levels of severity. The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes two categories of mental illness: any mental illness (AMI) and serious mental illness (SMI). AMI is defined as a behavioral, mental or emotional disorder that can vary in impact from mild to severe impairment. SMI is a behavioral, mental or emotional disorder which results in serious functional impairment and which greatly interferes with or limits major life activities. According to 2019 data, an estimated 20.6 percent of all U.S. adults have AMI, while only 5.2 percent of U.S. adults have SMI. As you can see, only a small number of Americans suffer from SMI, and in order for your co-parent’s mental health to weigh into your parenting plan, they will likely need to have severe impairment from AMI or be diagnosed with a SMI.

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Posted on in Divorce

Joliet divorce attorneysDivorce can impact everyone in its own way. For some, they may feel an immediate sense of loss for their partner, even if they know they are better without each other. For others, they may feel instant gratification and freedom, only to be hit by negative emotions months later. Divorce is never a one-size-fits all emotional experience, which can make it difficult to know how to cope with your feelings. This is especially true for parents as their focus is divided between comforting their children and themselves. In many cases, parents can make their own emotional healing take a backseat and leave themselves struggling with these emotions for months or even years.

Protect Yourself and Your Children

There is no surefire way to make your divorce easier, but there are some things you can do to help yourself cope. By doing so, you can also put yourself in a better position to help your children.

Below are four tips for parents who are going through a divorce to help them cope with their emotions and move forward with their lives stronger than ever before.

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Joliet divorce lawyersThe legal process of divorce can sometimes make you feel like you are drowning in paperwork. Decisions need to be made regarding spousal maintenance, the division of marital assets, parenting plans, and more, and along with these decisions comes a significant amount of legal paperwork and signing on the dotted line. But, what about when your divorce is finalized—what else needs to be done? Unfortunately, the life updates do not stop when your divorce is all said and done, and the following will need to be adjusted to reflect your new future as a single adult.

Emergency Contacts

Whether it is your kids’ contact information at school or your own personal emergency medical contact, it is important to update this information to be relevant to your current life rather than your old one. Emergency contacts can often get overlooked until an actual emergency is happening, in which case it may be too late to provide the new information.

Tax Information

As a married individual, there are a number of tax benefits allotted to you. Once your divorce is finalized, your tax information will be changed to reflect your new relationship status. For those who have gotten divorced in the past year, you may be able to write off some of the divorce settlement fees when tax time comes around, including spousal and child support. Your attorney should provide you with an itemized list of performed services to attach to your tax documents for proof of your listed exceptions.

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Will County family law attorneyDivorce is an emotionally-challenging life experience that, unfortunately, many couples go through. Regardless of the number of years that you have been married, recognizing that the promise of “till death do us part” has been broken can be devastating. This is especially true for those who share children together. Divorce does not just affect the married couple’s relationship, but also each parent’s relationship with their children. This decision does not need to have a damaging impact on your relationship as a parent, however, and the way that you choose to discuss this decision with your kids can be a key factor in the ramifications of your divorce.

Breaching the Topic

When you and your spouse have made the definitive decision to move forward with your divorce, it is important to be upfront with your children from the start. If they find out about your divorce through the grapevine before you have had the chance to talk to them, this can be damaging to your relationship and their trust in you. If you and your spouse are filing for divorce, it is highly unlikely that your child has not sensed your distance or tension in the past. They may even suspect that divorce is on the horizon. 

Before telling your kids the news, you and your spouse must be on the same page about how the discussion will go. Presenting the news as a united front will send the message that you are both their parents, despite your impending divorce. The details of the conversation will shift depending on your kids' ages, but be sure to stress that your decision to divorce is not reflective of your love for your child or a result of their actions in any way. 

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Will County child support enforcement lawyerWhen parents get divorced, there are a number of additional concerns that are unique to their situation. Both you and your co-parent will need to decide who will care for your child when, what parental responsibilities you will each take on, and how much child support will be provided from one parent to another. Most divorcing parents will have some form of child support order assigned to them, unless the parenting is 50/50 and the parents have almost identical incomes. How frequently does this happen? Not very often. 

Child support orders are meant to ensure that the parent with less parenting time is financially supporting their child, even if they do not care for the child as frequently as their co-parent. Unfortunately, child support payments do not always go as smoothly as they should, and your former spouse may not be meeting their payment deadlines each month. If this is the case, there are a few ways to enforce the financial assistance with the help of the court.

Determining the Amount Owed

Before any legal enforcements can be made, a judge must have proof of how much child support has been paid and how much is still owed. Finding documentation of these payments is dependent upon how the support is paid. For those who make payments through the Illinois State Disbursement Unit (SDU) or circuit court’s office, these two offices can provide a list of payments that have already been made and the amount still owed by the paying parent. It is important to keep your own documentation of these payments, in order to compare your records with those from the SDU or circuit court. If your co-parent simply pays you personally on a monthly basis (this is relatively uncommon), you will need to present your own evidence of the missing payments. From there, you can determine how much is still owed to you.

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