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Once again, I am happy to report that Illinois Divorce Lawyer Blog has received recognition as a Top 100 Divorce Blog. This blog is a labor of love, and designed to bring helpful information about Divorce, Custody, Finances, and Psychological Issues in Divorce.


Top 100 Divorce Blogs & Websites For To-Be Divorced & Divorcees

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I receive calls almost every day from people considering filing for a divorce. I always take these calls seriously, and try to get a phone or personal meeting set up as soon as is possible as every person that I meet with has good and thoughtful questions. My policy has always been to never push or encourage people into a divorce filing (absent other factors like Domestic Violence or other pathology, where an Intervention is needed) , and of course, to never promote a divorce when a divorce is not needed between a couple. Sometimes, people that I meet with simply wish to know what their options are, and what a divorce might entail if they decide to separate from their spouse and improve their life and family system.

Yet, with the new rules regarding maintenance, a single point needs to be made. If you’re going to pay (the majority of time, this is the Husband), it might be beneficial to file before the new statute’s benchmark dates kicks in for maintenance (spousal support).  If you are going to receive maintenance (the majority of time, the Wife), be mindful of the benchmark dates; you might wait a month or two (assuming there’s no pathology or domestic violence in the marriage) if you’re on the threshold of a higher maintenance percentage.  Here what the new statute requires:

The duration of maintenance is calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage at the time the action was commenced by whichever of the following factors applies: 5 years or less (.20); more than 5 years but less than 10 years (.40); 10 years or more but less than 15 years (.60); or 15 years or more but less than 20 years (.80). For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court in its discretion will order maintenance either permanently or for a period equal to the length of the marriage.

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How can a parent that is dealing with a high conflict spouse have a more effective means to address disputes?

One of the more challenging aspects of creating Parenting Plans for my clients is creating a methodology in the plan for dispute resolution. Parents that generally see eye-to-eye on matters concerning the children are able to work together to solve issues or disputes that arise without any outside help. Other parents can benefit from taking the dispute to a court designated mediator, who works with the parents to help them find a middle ground solution for the dispute. Some years ago, the Illinois Supreme Court expressed a preference for using mediators to try to resolve disputes between parents. However, the panacea that mediation was thought to be generally didn’t work out to be as effective as was hoped. Mediation works with parents that have a middle ground solution as a goal, and who come to the table with a mindset oriented toward resolution.  However, that’s just a minority of litigants. Those of you with high conflict ex-spouses will know how ineffective, and expensive, mediation can be.

To help my clients deal with a high conflict ex-spouse, I have been utilizing in my cases Parenting Coordinators to act as dispute resolvers. Parenting coordination is described as a combination of mediation and arbitration, as the parenting coordinator decides or recommends solutions to the disputes the parents are unable to resolve. A skilled parenting coordinator must be adept at investigating, interviewing, managing conflict and disputes, making decisions, educating parents, coordinating/case managing, and overseeing communication between parents.

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Dr. Amy Baker is a nationally recognized expert in parent child relationships, especially children of divorce, parental alienation syndrome, and emotional abuse of children. One of her books occupies a permanent place on my office bookshelf: The High-Conflict Custody Battle Protect Yourself and Your Kids from a Toxic Divorce, False Accusations, and Parental Alienation

Dr. Baker helps targeted parents navigate the legal and mental health systems. Topics addressed include:

How to find the right attorney for your case.

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I receive many calls from men and women in toxic relationships with people that have narcissistic personalities. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and often others. It is a DSM cluster B personality disorder.

One important tactic in dealing with a narcissist is proper boundary setting. This must be done carefully, and with skill and training, but it is necessary in order to defuse anger and chaos in the home. Preston Ni has published a set of methods for dealing with a narcissist, one of which includes boundary setting.

Know Your Rights and Set Boundaries:

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I reviewed an interesting article this morning on men, and how men fare in society in light of divorce and changing roles in life in a man’s middle aged years.

Divorce is difficult and traumatic for both men and women, but it seems some women have a resiliency that allows them to move forward in life more successfully than men, generally. The article points out that women traditionally have been better suited to forming relationships with other people, and have certain social skillsets that many men lack in middle age.

Further, the majority of women in divorce are awarded the residential custody of children, leaving some fathers in middle age without a household of children to wake up to, without a partner to look after, and without the funds to explore other activities.

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As part of my law practice, I track interesting articles relating to BPD and NPD. My clients are often benefited by having some coaching about these disorders and the best strategies for dealing with high conflict and toxic spouses. Here’s one article today from PsychCentral of interest:

How are Complex Trauma and Borderline Personality Disorder Related?

By Sara Staggs, LCSW, MPH

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A Father posted this photo from his Son. If anyone wonders why Illinois needs statutory presumptive shared parenting, or why competent and loving Fathers are necessary to the daily lives of their children, this picture tells a thousand words:


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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.

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