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DuPage County family law attorneysAcross the world, peoples’ lives have been turned upside down by fears over the coronavirus. Events have been cancelled, restaurants are not allowing customers to dine in, and schools are closed. Although these changes are difficult for everyone, children may have an especially hard time coping. Children’s anxieties about what’s going on in the world may be especially intensified if they are also coping with their parents’ divorce or other family law-related disputes. Fortunately, there are many steps that parents can take to reassure their children and help them deal with their fears and anxieties.

Keep Regular Routines

Not going to school or extracurricular activities may seem like a vacation at first, but many children quickly grow tired of staying at home isolated from their friends and schoolmates. Children may also have significant fears about the virus itself. They may worry for their own safety as well as the safety of their parents or grandparents. One way to help children feel more secure is to keep your routines as normal and predictable as possible. Keeping a consistent bedtime, morning routine, household chore schedule, and other routines will help the children establish a sense of normalcy.

Limit Children’s Exposure to the News

The current news coverage of the coronavirus is scary to say the least. It is important that parents limit children’s exposure to upsetting media coverage. Although children deserve to know what is going on, the images of sick and dying coronavirus patients and other disturbing images on the news are only going to further frighten children. It may be best for parents to wait until their children are in bed or otherwise occupied before turning on the news.

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DuPage County family law attorneysAs a parent, you will always want what is best for your child. By law, you also have a number of rights and responsibilities related to his or her upbringing and support. Exercising your parental rights can be challenging in the wake of divorce, especially if your ex-spouse has been allocated a majority of the parenting time and decision-making authority. When your ex-spouse gets remarried, your situation can become even more challenging, especially if his or her new partner expresses interest in legally adopting your child. If you are concerned about your parental rights being threatened, there are some steps that you can take to protect yourself.

Stepparent Adoption Requires Consent

In order for your ex’s new spouse to adopt your child, in most situations, you must grant voluntary consent. This means that you willingly terminate your parental rights and responsibilities for your child, as the law permits a person to have only two legal parents. A stepparent adoption is not a mere formality; it expressly transfers full parental authority and creates a legal parent-child relationship between your son or daughter and the stepparent.

It is your choice whether to grant your consent to a stepparent adoption. If you agree to it, you will no longer have any legal standing to request visitation or to make decisions regarding your child. Your ex-spouse and his or her new spouse may allow you to remain a part of the child’s life, but the court cannot force them to do so. If you refuse to consent, the case is all but closed. Your refusal can only be overridden by a finding that you are an unfit parent, and the involuntary termination of your parental rights.

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DuPage County maintenance attorneysWhen a married couple divorces in Illinois, the court may require the higher-earning spouse to pay spousal support to the other spouse. Spousal support is also called spousal maintenance or alimony. The support is typically intended to be temporary and rehabilitative in nature, but there are exceptions. The higher-earning spouse provides payments to the recipient spouse until he or she can get back on his or her feet financially. The issue of the payment of spousal support may also be agreed upon ahead of time through a prenuptial agreement. Whether you are the payor or recipient of spousal support, you may want to know how long these payments will last. The answer depends on a variety of factors.

Temporary Spousal Support vs. Permanent Spousal Support

If you and your spouse agreed to a spousal support arrangement in a Marital Settlement Agreement, the payments will end according to that agreement. When the court assigns spousal support, it is typically intended to last long enough for the recipient to gain the education, training, skills, and employment needed to become financially independent. Illinois law provides a formula for calculating the duration of a spousal support order that depends upon the length of the marriage. Longer marriages generally lead to proportionately longer orders for spousal support.

In some cases, the court will award permanent spousal support to a spouse. This typically happens when the spouses were married for longer than 20 years and the lesser earning spouse sacrificed education and employment to be a homemaker or care for children.

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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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DuPage County family law attorneysAnyone who has been married or in a serious relationship knows that things are not always as simple as they appear to be. Sometimes, a couple knows that their relationship is not working as it currently exists, but are not sure they are ready for a divorce. Legal separation offers an alternative to divorce or can be used as a step between living as a married couple and divorce. There are only a few reasons a couple may choose to legally separate as opposed to a divorce. Read on to learn about the benefits of legal separation in Illinois.

Separated Couples Are Still Legally Married

Legal separation can be advantageous in some situations. When a couple is not sure that they want to end the marriage, but want to live apart, separation can provide legally-binding constraints for co-parenting, child support, and spousal maintenance (alimony). Legal separation does not end the marriage so it may be an option for couples who choose not to divorce for religious reasons as well.

Legal separation is a contractually defined agreement between married individuals who choose to live apart while remaining legally married. Separation may be appropriate for couples who wish to maintain insurance coverage. Because legal separation does not change a couple’s marital status, separated couples can still file tax returns jointly. For couples who gain greater financial benefit from filing their taxes under the married filing jointly status, a legal separation may be a smart move.

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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