October 22, 2011

DuPage Divorce Attorney Advice: 10 Tips

Divorce is a very difficult life transition. Divorce is known to be one the highest stress events of a person's life, especially when the divorce was unexpected or involves dramatic changes to the children in the marriage.

My job as a divorce and custody attorney is to help my clients navigate the divorce process as successfully as possible. Divorce is a difficult process, but it should not be a "war." Wars, as we all know, end with casualties on both sides, cost a lot of money, and leave wounds that do not heal.

What basic advice can I give to help divorcing parties manage the stresses of divorce?

1. Understand that your life is changing, not ending. 99.9 percent of divorcing parents are adapting to life after divorce within a year of the divorce.
2. Keep your attorney informed of job changes, tax problems, relocations, and unplanned new events, such as a girlfriend or boyfriend.
3. Provide the financial documents and responses to discovery as promptly as you can. Upon hiring the firm, please start to gather tax return copies for recent years and complete the "Comprehensive Financial Statement." If a guardian ad litem or custody evaluator is appointed to your custody case, be sure to contact the GAL or evaluator as soon as possible.
4. Never involve the minor children in the details of the divorce, and don't send information or support payments to your spouse through the children.
5. Keep an electronic or paper file copy of the pleadings and correspondence sent to you by the firm.
6. Obey all court orders, even if you don't feel the order is fair. If the Judge orders you to maintain health insurance for your spouse during the divorce, keep them on your plan until the judge allows you to take them off the plan, usually post-judgment. If the judge sets a parenting schedule, don't change or interfere with parenting times without the consent of the other parent.
7. Obey court orders for this reason, too: In Illinois, if a party fails to obey a court order, and the judge finds that the failure was done without "cause or justification," the judge will order the disobeying spouse to pay the other party's attorney's fees for enforcing the order. Don't willfully skip a $200 support payment, only to incur $2000.00 in attorney's fees.
7. Join a divorce support group or find an individual therapist if the stress of the divorce or the stress of life changes becomes overwhelming.
8. Don't act out in front of the judge while in court. If you don't like a judge's ruling, wait until you're in the hallway outside the presence of the court to vent. Judges have good memories, and will remember people who act out in displeasure at their rulings. In divorce, there is give and take. Judges make rulings based on the law, and the courts make an effort to be fair under the law. Not every ruling will go your way; this is the nature of divorce litigation.
9. Instead of using the process to get revenge on your spouse, use the process the find resolution where possible. Don't be the divorcing couple that fights over every piece of dishware or tool in the toolbox. If you want to fight over the Ikea lamp, concede the Ikea lamp to your spouse, and take the $250 you would spend on lawyer's fees for an hour, and go to Ikea and buy yourself a new lamp...and a chair.
10. Even if you've had a difficult day at court, go home and breathe deeply, and remember the good that you have in your life. If you have children, treasure them. If you have only yourself, treasure yourself...life will get better after divorce.

October 20, 2011

Kane County Divorce: Shared Custody works for Danes

In my divorce and custody practice, I have always been an advocate for shared parenting plans for the right set of parents. When both Father and Mother are good and loving parents, there is no reason to cause one parent (typicaly Dad) to suffer the stigma of having "visitation" with his own children. The more opportunities that each parent has to parent their children allows the children to grow into better adolescent lives and behavior patterns. Children of divorce that experience two loving parents in their lives tend to do best long term.

A recent study from Denmark supports shared parenting:

The Copenhagen Post: "While equal custody arrangements became increasingly common in Denmark over the past decade, in 2007 they became the rule of law when a unanimous parliament passed the Parental Responsibility Act and made equally custody the default.

As a result, unless the parents agree to a different custody arrangement, the state favours and enforces equal custody, known as the 7/7 solution, which sees children spend alternating seven-day periods with each parent.

From the beginning it was controversial; parents and experts questioned whether having two homes was healthy for kids. Four years later the Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI) has released the first report of its kind on how the arrangement is affecting the children, and the results are mixed.

“It’s more difficult for children to have two homes than one. But that’s not tantamount to saying its distressing for all children,” Mai Heide Ottosen, an SFI senior researcher and the study's author, told Politiken newspaper. “If the parents are able to create continuity between the two different home situations, it can work well.”

By continuity, Ottosen means not only that they must agree to basic parenting rules, but that they should also live close to one another and be willing to switch days and co-ordinate pick-ups and drop-offs. In short, they should be able to co-operate with one another as well as, or better than, married couples do.

SFI determined that equal custody arrangements are easier for small children to tolerate than for teenagers who want more control over their clothes, rooms, schedules, and proximity to friends.

Not surprisingly, SFI’s study found that 7/7 custody sharing works best when parents freely choose it and plan it together. Such agreement and planning is predicated on being able to co-operate and get along. However, not all divorced couples can do that."