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Peoria Family Law Blog

Living and learning through the divorce process

Every divorce starts with one spouse filing a petition for divorce. In some cases, a couple discusses a spouse's divorce filing and the act is expected. In other cases, a spouse may have previously mentioned divorce, but the actual act of filing for divorce catches a husband or wife off guard. In other instances, a spouse's decision to file for divorce comes as a total surprise to an unsuspecting and devastated wife or husband. In all cases, the action of filing for divorce forever changes the relationship between spouses, as the wheels of the divorce process are set in motion.

Depending on a couple's situation and whether shared children are involved, a divorce may be finalized in a few short months or can drag on for years. Even couples who are fortunate to have a relatively quick and easy divorce are likely to encounter both challenges and surprises throughout a divorce. So how does one maintain their sanity during what is often such a difficult process?

Gray divorcees may benefit from ex-spouse's Social Security benefits

According to AARP, Inc., the divorce rate among married couples age 50 and older has doubled since 1990.The increasing prevalence of divorces among this age demographic has led many to refer to the phenomenon as gray divorce.

For men and women who are age 50 or older, divorce concerns largely center on how to fund one's retirement years. Like divorces among younger couples, in gray divorces marital assets must be divided and two lifestyles afforded on a much smaller amount. However, unlike younger divorcees, individuals age 50 and older have few to no working years left to attempt to recoup financial losses which only compounds their financial difficulties post-divorce.

Divorcees advised to remain focused and engaged during settlement process

Few life events bring as many changes and challenges as divorce. Regardless of the circumstances that drove a couple to divorce, the end of any marriage is often a difficult reality to face and the finality that divorce brings often causes each spouse to suffer both emotionally and mentally. It's no wonder then that, while in the midst of a divorce, some individuals fail to fully contemplate or understand important financial considerations.

For many divorcing spouses, the division of marital property and assets is a confusing and arduous process. Illinois is an equitable distribution state meaning that a judge will take numerous factors into consideration when determining who gets what and how much of it as well as who is responsible for the repayment of certain marital debts. When facing or going through a divorce, it's important to understand factors that may influence the equitable, or more accurately fair, distribution of assets and debts.

Communicating with a child about divorce

The decision to divorce is often a difficult one to make. Once that decision has been made, it's important that both spouses take steps to ensure for their own emotional and financial wellbeing. Complicating matters are strong emotions, vivid memories, shared finances and, in many cases, shared children.

Parents who decide to divorce are often extremely concerned about how a child will be affected and worry whether he or she will suffer mentally or emotionally. In truth, every child is different and while there's no way to predict whether a child will adjust easily or have a more difficult time, there are things parents can do to make the process easier and less stressful.

Unwed Illinois fathers and the importance of establishing paternity

In recent decades, it's becoming increasingly difficult to define what constitutes as being a traditional American family. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2012, roughly 40 percent of U.S. births were to unmarried women. Whether by choice or not, the fact that there are so many children being born to single mothers raises several questions, one of the most important relating to the role fathers play in the lives of these children.

When a married man and woman have a child, there is little question about the father's paternity rights. However, in cases where a child is born to parents who are not married, questions are often raised about everything from what to call the unwed biological father to his rights to see and parent the child.

Divorce: what husbands and fathers need to know before moving out of a shared home

We often discuss important matters related to the divorce process like child custody and the division of marital assets. Rarely discussed, however, are the immediate actions an individual should and should not take upon making the decision to divorce. Whether a divorce is precipitated by one major event or a slow demise over the course of several years, when a divorce is imminent it's customary that spouses physically separate.

In many cases, it's the man who chooses to vacate a family home or shared apartment. A father with good intentions may move out of the home he previously shared with his wife and three kids to spare his soon-to-be ex-wife the pain and hassle of doing so. In another example, upon learning his wife wants a divorce, a man with no children may decide it's easiest if he moves out of the expensive apartment the two own. While, in some cases, a man's decision to move out may make practical sense, doing so often has many negative and unforeseen consequences.

Does peer pressure influence divorce decisions?

Many of us fear or have difficulty with change. Even in cases where we may not be happy, it's sometimes easier to stay the course rather than face the unknowns that accompany making a change. This is frequently the case for many unhappily married individuals and couples. Even in cases where a husband and wife constantly fight or come to realize they are no longer in love, it can be difficult to take action and choose to end a marriage and file for divorce.

While making the decision to divorce may not be easy, according to at least one study, it’s a decision that's a lot easier to make when an individual has a positive example of the possible outcome. For the study, researchers from three prominent universities studied the phenomena commonly referred to as "copycat divorces." The study's findings indicate that an individual who has at least one friend who is divorced is "75 percent more likely” to also divorce.

How to survive and thrive during the divorce process

Living in an unhappy marriage can take an enormous toll on an individual emotionally, mentally and physically. Finally making the decision to file for divorce and end a marriage, can be extremely liberating, but also scary. Any change can be difficult and divorce is full of changes, some of which may be difficult. When going through the divorce process, it's important to know that there will be difficult times ahead. It's also, however, important to remain confident and know that the decision to divorce is the right one.

Most Peoria area residents have likely heard the phrase no pain no gain. This saying definitely applies to the divorce process as individuals in the midst of a divorce often feel overwhelmed by numerous and sometimes conflicting thoughts, feelings and emotions. To make the divorce process easier, individuals would be wise to take the following advice to heart.

Don't procrastinate when it comes to filing for divorce

The decision to divorce should not be taken likely. That being said, often unhappy spouses spend long years or months attempting to fix a broken or dead marriage well after they know it's past the point of saving. For the sake of one's own happiness and that of shared children, it's important to take action and file for divorce sooner rather than later.

Of course, at face value, the advice referenced above makes sense. However, when an individual is actually faced with the prospect of filing for divorce, things become much more complicated. When contemplating divorcing a spouse, emotions such as love, regret, guilt and empathy often interfere with an individual's ability to think clearly and rationally. There are, however, some definite signs that a marriage needs to end.

Societal shifts reflected in child custody matters

This past weekend, sons and daughters across the Peoria area gathered with their fathers to celebrate Father's Day. There's no doubt that, regardless of a child’s age, fathers play an important and influential role in the lives of their children. While traditionally mothers were considered the primary caregivers and tended to take on the majority of child rearing duties, today more than ever, fathers are taking a more active role in their children's lives.

What happens then when a marriage or relationship between a mother and father ends? Previously many family law judges were more likely to grant a mother full physical custody with the father having access to a child every other weekend and the odd week day. Today, regardless of marital status, many fathers are fighting to retain child custody rights to raise and spend equal time with their children.