When making decisions during the divorce process that directly affect your children, the court will primarily consider their best interests.
Even if divorce is the best decision for you and your family, it can still be difficult for your children, and it will surely affect their lives as much as it does yours. Many legal aspects of the divorce process affect your children directly; others are often indirect. Even if your divorce is finalized, your children will likely process their feelings about it for many years, and possibly the rest of their lives.
With so much at stake for you and your children, having an experienced Will County family law attorney by your side is critical during your divorce and even beyond. Your attorney can take the time to get to know you and understand the unique elements of your case in order to provide you with the best possible legal advice and representation to protect your children’s wellbeing. In the meantime, read on to learn 10 things every parent should know about divorce and how it affects children.
- Your children’s wellbeing is most important. When making decisions during the divorce process that directly affect your children, the court will primarily consider their best interests. It can be difficult not to selfishly address these issues, but if you take the time to think about what is really best for your children, you can potentially reduce conflict with your ex and even work on an agreement that suits their needs Giving priority to your children.
- Both parents must contribute to the child’s upkeep. In Illinois and the United States, a child has the right to financial assistance from both parents whether the parents are married, living together, separated, or divorced. During a divorce, your child support obligations are calculated using a formula determined by the state in which you live. This usually takes into account the income of both parents and the distribution of parental leave or custody of the children.
- Failure to pay support can have serious consequences. If you repeatedly fail to meet your court-ordered child support obligations, your ex can assist you with an enforcement action and you can face a variety of penalties. In Illinois, the consequences can include withheld income, fines, suspension of driver’s license, disregard charges and other criminal charges, and even imprisonment.
- Parental leave may not be the same.
Wife and two children on a park bench; Image by Benjamin Manley via Unsplash.com.
An important decision during your divorce is the distribution of the time your children will spend with each parent. Unless mitigating circumstances exist, the courts usually prefer a regulation that gives both parents plenty of time. However, this does not necessarily mean an even distribution. As with other decisions, the best interests of the children are most important. After considering factors such as the children’s schedule and their connection to their current home and community, it may be best to shift the balance in favor of a parent.
- The decision-making power of the parents must be assigned. Divorce custody decisions are about much more than the circumstances of your children. You also need to define how you and your ex share decision-making responsibility for their education, upbringing, and health. Constructive communication with your ex during and after your divorce can be critical to working together to maintain consistency and create an environment that supports the growth and well-being of children.
- Children can influence decisions about the family home. While decisions about the division of marital property are largely between you and your spouse, your children’s needs can affect the outcome for certain properties, including your family home. It may be important for one parent, possibly the parent with the greater share of parental leave, to keep ownership of the home in order to provide stability for their children.
- Moving with your children may require court approval. Although at least one parent is typically required to move to a new residence following a divorce, the proposed removal can have an impact on legal process. Most states have laws that require court authorization to move that will keep the children away from the other parent. In Will County, Illinois, this distance is more than 25 miles from the children’s current primary residence.
- Divorce conflicts can harm your children. Research shows that children whose parents are involved in destructive conflicts are more prone to mental health problems, behavior problems, and unhealthy relationships of their own. Getting your children involved in conflict by encouraging them to be a mediator can also damage their relationship with both parents. Before, during, and after your divorce, try to avoid fierce fights or arguments in front of your children and abuse the other parents behind their backs.
- A new partner can affect your relationship with your children. It’s perfectly normal to start a new romantic relationship at some point after your divorce, but the way you introduce a new partner to your children is important. Try to wait until you are in a committed relationship to introduce yourself, and be careful not to neglect your children when spending more time with your partner. You should also be aware that a partner with a history of violence or other dangerous behavior can negatively affect your parental leave and custody.
- Children need time to adapt. Don’t be surprised if your children’s behavior changes after your divorce. You can see them pull back, flog them, or rebel in ways they have never done in the past. It’s important to maintain consistent discipline and routine, but it’s even more important that you make an effort to listen to their concerns, comfort them, and be patient with their coping process. You should also watch for signs of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health issues that require the assistance of a trained professional.
Helping your children through your divorce may not be easy, but often what they need most are the love, support, and understanding that you have shown them throughout their lives. While you focus on your personal relationships with your children, a divorce lawyer in Joliet, IL can focus on the legal aspects of your divorce to ensure that their interests are considered and protected.