Tag Archive for: Divorce

Back to School: 5 Tips for Co-Parenting

Back to school comes with a lot of nerves and excitement for children and families. For parents who are separated, in the middle of a divorce, or  already divorced, co-parenting with your ex can be a challenge.  At this time of year however, your children need you to put aside your animosity in order to make their school year a success.

After a divorce, working with your child’s other parent may be uncomfortable to say the least. But making the effort to cooperate with your co-parent and your child’s school set-up can make things easier for everyone. That’s especially true now, with emerging strains of COVID-19, and now Monkeypox concerns clouding parents’ vision of the 2022-2023 school year.

We know it can be hard to get on the same page with your ex. We also know that you want what’s best for your children—and that means being able to communicate effectively with each other in order to ensure they get the education they deserve.

Here’s what you should know about co-parenting this fall and a couple of tips to help you prepare for your child’s 2022-2023 school year.

Share Obligations for Back to School Shopping

As the school year approaches, it’s important to remember that back-to-school shopping is a shared responsibility. Shopping for materials and supplies can be costly, especially if you’re buying them for more than one child. While many parents are happy to help their children pick out new clothes and supplies, others may not be as excited about the process of buying “boring” mandatory necessities. Make a clear plan of who is buying what, and when, to ensure your child doesn’t miss out on those soccer boots or rucksack (plus you’ll avoid duplication of expenses).

Keep a Predictable Parenting Time Schedule

Stay ahead of any anticipated disputes by designing, implementing, and complying with a detailed Parenting Time plan. Creating a parenting time schedule can be an emotional law topic and should have been set during your divorce proceedings. If this is not the case, it’s important for parent-child relationships to have consistency in their schedule, and therefore you need to set one immediately.

For parents, it helps both people keep track of the child’s activities. For children, it helps give them a sense of routine, security, and certainty that is an important part of healthy child development.

Inform Your Child’s School of Your Co-Parenting Arrangements

When your kids start a new school year, it’s important to make sure that the school knows who they should talk to in case of emergencies. And even more importantly, who they should release your children to after school.

At the start of each school year, provide the principal at your children’s school with a copy of your child custody and parenting time order. This is especially true if your custody/parenting time order has been modified over the past year, or if your kids have changed schools. This includes children who are graduating from elementary to middle or from middle to high school. This will put the school on notice about who they should talk to in case of emergencies, and who to release your children to after school to avoid conflict.

Coordinate Events with Your Co-Parent 

It can be difficult to attend school functions when you’re divorced. Your co-parent may not want you to go, or they might want you to attend but won’t be there themselves. If this is the case, make sure your child knows who will be attending without making it seem like the non-attending parent didn’t want to go.

Sporting events, class plays and class graduations are all important to your child and their development. They will ultimately suffer if you end up clashing at these important milestones. For their sake, try to cooperate with one another to attend school events together as a show of unity and support. If that isn’t a possibility, make sure your child knows who will be attending so they’re not on the lookout for ultimate disappointment.

Set Expectations and Remember Your Priorities

The first few weeks of school can be a bit chaotic. It’s important to remember that it’s not just your child who is adjusting to new teachers, new classrooms, and new classmates—you are too!

When you and your co-parent are starting back-to-school planning, make sure you’re both on the same page. Back-to-school time opens a door for conflict, but conflict results in the child/children suffering.

You and your co-parent need to know what is expected of each other. Who is going to help with homework? Who will take your child to football practice? Maybe mom helps one child and dad is responsible for helping the other. Maybe you take it in weekly or biweekly turns. There is no right answer, but whatever arrangement you and your co-parent decide upon should be detailed in your parenting plan to eliminate confusion in the future.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

If you STILL cannot come to a civil agreement on parenting time, Allocation of Parental Responsibilities is an actionable step to set a new plan in place.

There are three basic types of child allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois — joint allocation of parental responsibilities, sole allocation of parental responsibilities and shared allocation of parental responsibilities:

Joint allocation of parental responsibilities requires parents to cooperate in decision-making regarding your child’s education and schooling matters, (amongst other decisions such as health care and religious instruction). It does not mean that the children live with each parent for an equal amount of time. The parties will agree or the court will assign a residential parent. The non-residential parent will pay child support and exercise parenting time. The amount of time the children spends with the non-residential parent is addressed in a parenting time agreement or order.

Sole allocation of parental responsibilities is the term that describes the arrangement that gives one parent the responsibility for deciding everything related to the child’s welfare. It does not mean that the other parent is out of the picture.

Shared allocation of parental responsibilities is a form of joint allocation of parental responsibilities. It is appropriate when the child spends equal time with each parent, the parents reside in the same school district and are able to joint parent.

How Masters Law Group Can Help

Masters Law Group LLC focuses on helping clients assert their rights to further the best interests of their children. Attorney Erin E. Masters is a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Attorney Anthony G. Joseph is also on the list of approved Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representatives for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

We offer a variety of services to help parents, children, and families through difficult times like Divorce, Parenting Time and Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. If you are in need of legal assistance, contact a member of our team today. Our attorneys will work with you to develop an action plan that is fair and fits your unique needs and goals. 

We will work diligently on your behalf and provide regular updates throughout the process. You can count on us when it matters most—and we hope that means now! Contact us today to speak to a qualified Chicago family law attorney to set up a free consultation with us.

 

Divorce Disputes: Know Your Rights

Divorce can be an extremely emotional time. On top of this, couples need to decide how to split their assets, including money, the marital home and the custody of the children.

The divorce process is stressful and can easily bring out the worst in people. Although divorce can get you out of an unhappy marriage, it can also leave you high and dry if you don’t know your rights.

Emotional vs Financial Decisions

Divorce professionals will tell you that it’s best to approach your settlement discussions as a business discussion; but how do you take your emotions out of your divorce negotiations?

Fear, anger, sadness, loss. While you should let yourself feel all of these emotions and seek out the support you need to get through the hurt, when it comes to the divorce process itself, controlling your emotions is key to getting the outcome that you are looking for.

Reasons why these discussions need to be more about business than emotions include:

  • The legal system is not set up to resolve disagreements based on moral arguments, but bound by statutes and case law and these likely will not provide resolution for the wrongs you’ve experienced.
  • Decisions based on emotions are not the best long term or even short term decisions. For example a fight over a home you can’t afford to upkeep will only harm your financial future.
  • You could easily end up regretting your emotional decisions further down the line. For example you realize something you are fighting for is harming the welfare of the children.

Letting go of those feelings during the divorce process not only helps keep the focus on protecting your legal rights, but it also gets rid of those old hopes and dreams so you can start building new ones for the future.

If your marriage has any complicated issues to settle (see below), a family law attorney can be an invaluable resource.

Spousal Support/Alimony

While divorce may end a marriage, it doesn’t necessarily end the obligations of one spouse to another. Oftentimes, one spouse is able to receive spousal support, or alimony, to help them establish a new, post-divorce life.

The court will award financial assistance based on factors such as the duration of the marriage, each person’s earning capacity, contributions to the household and physical health of the recipient.

There are five different types of alimony that may be awarded:

  • Rehabilitative Alimony: Granted for a specified time period. It provides the recipient with the funds to obtain the job skills and education needed for him or her to become self-sufficient.
  • Lump-Sum Alimony: A one-time, fixed payment and is often granted in lieu of a property settlement. The amount awarded is equal to the total of future monthly payments.
  • Permanent Alimony: Which continues until the recipient remarries or either payor or payee dies. The payments may be adjusted due to changes in financial circumstances.
  • Reimbursement Alimony: The dutiful spouse who works full time to put her partner through school and is divorced shortly after is a candidate for reimbursement alimony. As the name implies, this support reimburses one spouse for expenses incurred in helping the other complete an education or training program.
  • Temporary Alimony: Temporary alimony is sometimes paid when a couple separates but the divorce is not final. The parties execute a written marital separation agreement stipulating how much and when payment will be made.

Property Disputes

When the court grants a divorce, property will be divided equitably (not always equally) between the two spouses. This is decided under the Equitable Distribution Law. During the divorce both spouses have to tell the court about their income and any debts they owe. There are two different types of property for the purposes of a divorce. Property that the couple bought during the marriage is called “marital property”. Property that belonged to you before the marriage or was a gift to just you from someone other than your spouse is called “separate property”. Marital property can be divided between the two spouses. Rather than using an automatic 50/50 split, an Illinois judge will consider all relevant factors in deciding what kind of property division is fair.

There’s no hard and fast rule for who gets the house in an Illinois divorce. In cases where a couple can’t afford to keep the marital home, a judge will order the house to be listed and sold as soon as possible so that the couple could divide the proceeds.

Child Custody

Probably the most contentious and emotionally difficult aspect of a divorce is deciding on custody of the children.

In an Illinois divorce or custody case, either parent may request custody, or both parents may agree to joint custody.

You may also ask the court to determine custody in other situations, including:

  • If you are not married to the other parent but need to determine custody of a child.
  • If you want to be the legal guardian of a child.
  • If you need to determine who the parent of your child is.

Parents may share legal custody, or legal custody may be vested in one parent (i.e. sole legal custody). While it is possible to share residential custody, such arrangements are oftentimes impractical or would impose too much stress on their children.

Child custody cases are intensely fact specific, and it is important to speak to an experienced family law attorney before letting emotions or fear dictate your decisions should you be faced with a custody battle.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Divorce

Despite what you hear and see on television, most legal disputes never make it to court and are usually resolved by a settlement outside of court proceedings.

Resolving divorce issues listed above can happen without lengthy and expensive litigation. More couples are now going with alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to end their marriages. The popularity of mediation has shifted the role of divorce attorneys from representing their clients in a legal battle to acting as divorce mediation lawyers to help clients achieve mediation success. In this new role attorneys can serve as a lawyer coaches, legal consultants, and legal advisers in the divorce mediation process.

ADR may prove to be a beneficial tool in resolving your divorce and related issues, depending on factors such as the degree to which you and your spouse are in dispute on key issues, and your willingness to work together to resolve those issues.

Get the help you need

Unfortunately, while it is always possible to represent yourself in a divorce case, it may not always be advisable.

Masters Law Group understands that divorce is a stressful situation and that our clients want to move on with their lives. As such, we move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with our clients assurance and well-being in mind.

Whether you are facing a contested divorce, uncontested divorce, or civil union divorce, our firm’s attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most.

Divorce cases involving substantial assets or complex estates require specialized knowledge. Masters Law Group is skilled at identifying and valuing assets and wealth, including real estate, securities, business interests, retirement funds, pension plans, tax shelters (domestic and foreign), overseas accounts, stock options, trusts and other actual or potential sources of wealth.

Schedule a Consultation today to learn more about how we can assist as your Divorce Mediators and Attorneys.