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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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DuPage County divorce attorneyIn cases where the well-being of a child is at issue, sometimes parents will resort to inappropriate measures. Illinois law recognizes one of the most insidious—known as parental alienation—as a possible reason to adjust a parenting plan or custody arrangement. Many people, however, do not understand parental alienation or how to recognize the signs of it.

Definitions and Symptoms

While there is currently some debate as to whether parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a true disorder, this question is all but irrelevant in the legal system, where the effects of parental alienation are very real. Parental alienation, in legal terms, occurs when a child is influenced or brainwashed into believing the worst of one parent, most often by the other parent—though sometimes by a grandparent or someone else close to the alienator. The ultimate goal is usually to get the child to totally reject the other parent. This most often happens during custody or divorce proceedings, though it can, in theory, occur at any time in a child’s life.

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DuPage County family law attorneysThe winter holiday season is a time that is meant to be shared with friends and loved ones. For some families, however, spending time together can be a challenge due to divorce, child-related legal matters, and other concerns. No matter what you may be going through, you and your children deserve to enjoy the Christmas season, and there are some steps you can take to help make that happen.

Be More Flexible

Shared parenting time is often a major point of contention for divorced parents around the holidays. You want to see your children on Christmas, but so does their other parent. It is important to keep in mind that fighting with your ex-spouse will do nothing to promote a happier holiday for you or your children. Try to compromise on a parenting time schedule that affords you both the opportunity to share in the joy of the season with your children, even if you do not get as much time as you would like.

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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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