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Wheaton family law attorneysIn the state of Illinois, child support is an element present in the vast majority of divorce cases involving children. Child support is meant to provide for the basic needs of minor children and is generally no longer enforceable when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes last. These days, children are often dependent on their parents for a few years after they graduate from high school, especially if they attend college. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act addresses this issue and provides guidelines for parents who will help pay for their child’s college education.

Covered College Expenses

The court can require one or both parents to be responsible for paying a share of their child’s educational expenses until the child turns 23, or 25 in some circumstances. The potential expenses include:

  • Up to five college application
  • Two college entrance exams
  • One college entrance exam prep course
  • Tuition and fees
  • Housing expenses, whether on-campus or off-campus
  • Medical expenses, including health insurance and dental expenses
  • Reasonable living expenses, including food, utilities, and transportation for a non-resident student
  • The cost of textbooks or other supplies necessary for the child to attend school.

The court can order that the funds to cover these expenses be paid directly to the child, to the educational institution, to either of the parents, or through the use of a special account or trust created and designated solely for the use of educational expenses.

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DuPage County family law attorneysIf you and your spouse are considering divorce and you have children together, you may have concerns about how you will share parental responsibilities and parenting time. Co-parenting with an ex-spouse can be extremely difficult—especially if the end of the marriage was wrought with conflict. If you and your child’s other parent cannot communicate without the discussion devolving into arguments, parallel parenting may be an effective strategy for you to consider.

The Basics of Parallel Parenting

Just as every marriage is different, every divorce is different. Some divorced parents can easily communicate with each other about child-related concerns. They may even spend major holidays together or take joint vacations. Other divorced parents feel a great deal of animosity toward each other and would rather not communicate at all. If you are getting divorced and you worry about you and your spouse’s ability to co-parent, parallel parenting may be the right choice for you.

In a parallel parenting scenario, each parent makes their own parenting decisions with little input from the other parent. Any communication between the parents is typically done via email or text messages and the parents only communicate if it is absolutely necessary. A multitude of research has shown that children are deeply damaged by being exposed to parental arguments and fighting. The goal of parallel parenting is to allow both parents to be involved in their child’s life while minimizing the potential for conflict as much as possible.

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Wheaton family law attorneysWhen parents finally reach the realization that they can no longer be happily married, their first concern is often how the divorce will affect their children. Fortunately, research has shown that children of divorced parents can thrive and be just as successful and contented as children with married parents. However, telling children about an impending divorce can be a near-monumental task to undertake. If you and your spouse have children and plan to separate or divorce, telling the children about the split may be a challenging and emotional conversation. However, there are some steps you can take to make the conversation about divorce less traumatic for you and your children.

If Possible, Tell the Kids Together

If you and your spouse are able to do so civilly, telling the children together can help them feel more secure. Presenting a united front in this way helps indicate to your children that although you may not be married to on another anymore, you will still be their parents. Telling the children as a couple also helps the children feel less obligated to pick sides. Of course, telling your kids about the split together is not always possible. Couples with extreme resentment towards each other may struggle to put the children’s needs first during the conversation and may make the situation more emotionally volatile.

Make the Conversation Age Appropriate

If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse have several children together, you may be tempted to tell them about the divorce separately. Many experts suggest telling the children all at once instead of individually. Doing this reduces the chances that one child spreads misinformation to the others and adds unnecessary confusion. After the initial group discussion, you may want to follow up with each child independently. When discussing divorce with children under five, experts say that keeping the conversation simplistic and concrete is best. Focus on the vital information: where the child will live and who he or she will live with. School aged children can handle a bit more detail, but parents should be careful not to overshare. Teenaged children may be standoffish when learning about the divorce and act like they do not want to talk about their feelings. However, teens and preteens still need love and attention from parents just as younger children do. Give your teenaged child some time to cool off if he or she gets upset at the news and try to approach the topic later.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersWhile most parents who are considering divorce give a great deal of thought to how their children may be affected, they may not think about the actual health impact such a decision could have. Parents and experts tend to consider the psychological and behavioral effects primarily, but research is beginning to emerge that suggests that physiological health may also be impacted years into the future.

Longitudinal Research

A recent study conducted by researchers from Penn State University and the University of Louisville looked at long-term data of nearly 15,000 men and women born in the United Kingdom in 1958. Published in the journal Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, the study sought to analyze the health impact of parental divorce at different stages in a child’s life.

The research team found that the youngest interval studied—birth to age seven—was the group most at risk for later health concerns when the child’s parents divorced. Those in that interval self-reported worse health at age 50 than those who experienced parental divorce at later ages. Divorce at the youngest interval was also linked, although not statistically significantly, with lower physical functioning and diagnosed health problems.

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DuPage County family law attorneysIf you are a divorced parent, you may find it very tough to pursue your own personal interests and hobbies. Between work and providing for your children, it might be nearly impossible to find time to travel, meet with friends, or participate in fun activities. It is important to develop an identity apart from being a parent as doing so is crucial to your psychological and emotional health. One of the biggest challenges that you are likely to face as a divorced parent is finding a sitter to care for your child when you need it. Depending on your situation, however, your parenting plan may require you to call your child’s other parent first.

What is the Right of First Refusal?

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a divorced or unmarried couple’s parenting plan may grant what is known as the “right of first refusal” to one or both parents. The right of first refusal essentially gives a parent “first dibs” on the opportunity to care for the child if the other parent needs alternative childcare during his or her normal parenting time. This may seem rather complicated, but it is actually quite simple in practice.

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From our law office in Wheaton, IL the family law and civil litigation law attorneys of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick and Mirabella, represent businesses and individual clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois including Wheaton, Naperville, Oak Brook, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Lombard, Downers Grove, Burr Ridge, Lisle, Elmhurst, Oakbrook Terrace, Winfield, Woodridge, Warrenville and throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties.

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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree