Category Archives: Children of divorce

Why Parenting Time Is Different from VisitationThe terms “parenting time” and “visitation” are sometimes loosely interchanged with each other when discussing the allocation of parental responsibilities after a divorce or separation. When the children spend the majority of their time with one parent, the other parent may feel like they are seeing the children only during weekend visits. However, visitation is different from parenting time, both in legal definition and concept. Saying that your children visit you is demeaning to your relationship with them.

Legal Meaning

Illinois revised its Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to replace the words “child custody” with “the allocation of parental responsibilities.” Parental responsibilities are made up of:

  • Decision-making, which is the right to decide important issues regarding the children; and 
  • Parenting time, which is the regularly scheduled time in which a parent is responsible for caring for the children.

The written agreement that divides these parental responsibilities is called the parenting plan. There is a separate section in the law for visitation, which is defined as the time spent between a child and a nonparent, such as a grandparent, stepparent, sibling, or other designated parties. Nonparents can petition for visitation with a child if they can prove that it is in the best interest of the child or the parent has unreasonably denied them visits.

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How Divorced Parents Can Help Their Misbehaving Teen

Divorce puts an emotional strain on the children in the family, which can affect their behavior. Teenage children can be particularly troublesome because they can be exposed to bad influences that could get them into serious trouble. In the worst scenarios, an emotionally distraught teen may become involved in criminal or dangerous activities. As a parent, you are responsible for protecting your children and teaching them the difference between right and wrong. You can utilize your parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities to help your teen through this difficult period.

A Parent’s Role

Being a parent after a divorce means more than providing for the basic living needs of the children and making sure they are attending school. Parents have an irreplaceable role in their children’s emotional development by:

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Planning Your Divorce Conversation with Your ChildrenTelling your children about your divorce will be as difficult of a conversation for you as when you and your spouse first discussed divorce. Both are stressful and emotional, but your conversation with your children may be more upsetting for you depending on their reaction. Just as with your spouse, it will help to plan your conversation with your children. This will be a traumatic milestone in their lives, and you should avoid thoughtless mistakes that will make the experience worse than it needs to be.

Timing

You should tell your children about your divorce soon after you have made your decision, but a slight delay may be necessary to find an optimal time and place. Ideally, the conversation should:

  • Include both parents and all of your children together; and
  • Take place when none of you have any immediate responsibilities afterward, such as the beginning of a weekend.

Talking to your children together allows you to present a unified message about the divorce. Having all your children present avoids the appearance that you are favoring one of your children by telling him or her first. The conversation will be upsetting and distracting to your children. They will need time to process the news and continue to ask you questions.

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Should You Delay Your Divorce Until Your Child Leaves Home?Some parents who are in failing marriages stay together for the betterment of their children. The seemingly ideal time to divorce is when the youngest child graduates from high school because:

You may feel noble by deciding to delay your divorce for a couple of years until your children have become adults. You are considering the needs of your children before your own. However, postponing a necessary divorce can emotionally damage your children in ways you did not intend:

  1. Your Children Are Continually Exposed to Your Conflicts: Staying married for your children will not fix the problems in your relationship. You will not be able to hide the tension between each other from your children. You will either openly lash out at each other or create an awkward environment by not talking to each other. Your children are learning from you how to interact in relationships.
  2. Your Children Feel at Fault for Your Unhappiness: Your older children will realize that they are the reason you have not gotten a divorce. Rather than admire you for your selflessness, they may feel guilty that they are prolonging your misery. Your children will think of themselves as your burden, which is unhealthy for their emotional development.
  3. Divorce Hurts, No Matter the Age: Postponing your divorce will delay your children’s pain instead of lessening it. Young adults better understand divorce, but your decision will still upset them. They may believe that being older means that they should not share their feelings with you, even though they need your emotional support.
  4. You Are Creating Uncertainty When Your Children Need Certainty: Becoming an adult is a major change in your child's life because he or she is leaving home for the first time and facing new responsibilities. Your home can provide comfort and stability to your children when they are feeling uncertain. By divorcing at the same time that your child leaves home, you have taken away part of your child’s support system and compounded the changes in his or her life.

A Tough Choice

There is not an ideal time in your children’s lives for you to get a divorce because the experience will always cause emotional trauma. Though it feels selfish, you must consider your own emotional health and happiness. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can provide information to help you decide when you should get a divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Consequences of High-Conflict Divorce for Parents and ChildrenThe aftermath of a high-conflict divorce can leave both parties with emotional wounds that take time to heal. However, the wounds inflicted on the children of the divorce can be deeper and affect a child’s mental health and relationship with his or her parents. When parents fail to shelter their children from their high-conflict divorce, the children can become resentful towards their parents and disillusioned towards relationships in general. Parents must act quickly to repair the damage that their contentious divorce has caused their children.

Problems with High-Conflict Divorce

Parents may believe they are doing enough to protect their children from their divorce arguments by not lashing out at them. However, witnessing the conflict is still damaging to the children. Divorcing parents can also indirectly involve their children in their conflicts by disparaging each other around the children or using the children as messengers. Parents who are absorbed in their high-conflict divorce may fail to provide adequate attention to their children’s emotional needs. As a result, the children may:

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Goostree Law Group

Goostree Law Group

 555 S. Randall Road, Suite 200
St. Charles, IL 60174

 630-584-4800

 1770 Park Street, Suite 205
Naperville IL 60563

 630-364-4046

 400 S. County Farm Road, Suite 300
Wheaton, IL 60187

 630-407-1777

Our Illinois divorce attorneys represent clients in Kane County, DuPage County, Kendall County and DeKalb County, including Geneva, Batavia, St.Charles, Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, Virgil, Lily Lake, Aurora, North Aurora, Elgin, South Elgin, Bartlett, Crystal Lake, Gilberts, Millcreek, Maple Park, Kaneville, LaFox, Yorkville, Oswego, Plano, Sugar Grove, Big Rock, Bristol, Newark, DeKalb, Sycamore, Naperville, Wheaton, West Chicago, Winfield, Warrenville, Downers Grove, Lombard, Oak Brook, Streamwood, Hoffman Estates, Barrington, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Schaumburg, Big Grove, Boulder Hill, Bristol, Joliet, Kendall, Lisbon, Minooka, Montgomery, Plainfield, Sandwich, Yorkville and many other cities.

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