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Four Ways to Help a Misbehaving Child During DivorceChildren can be unpredictable when it comes to how they will react to major events, such as their parents getting divorced. You like to think that you know your child well enough to be able to anticipate how upset they will be, but there is no precedent for them responding to divorce. If your child’s behavior takes a turn for the worse, that will add yet another concern to an already stressful time in your life. Bad behavior for some children is throwing tantrums or behaving rudely. For others, it may be more serious misbehavior that gets them in trouble with school or the law. You need to address your child’s behavior before it becomes a larger problem that creates consequences for them:

  1. Maintain Discipline: Do not let your child get away with bad behavior because you feel guilty about the divorce. Your divorce may be the reason they are acting out, but being lax with discipline will encourage their behavior. You should maintain the same rules for behavior and may need to punish your child if their actions warrant it.
  2. Show Compassion: There are ways to discipline your child while also acknowledging the pain your divorce is causing them. Try not to show anger towards your child when they behave poorly. Talk to them about how they feel and how you may be able to help them with their struggles.
  3. Pay Attention: Your child may be angry at you for the divorce because they feel you are ignoring them and their needs. You know that your parental responsibilities are one of the most important parts of your divorce, but they may not understand that. Paying attention and listening to your child is the best way you can demonstrate that they are still your top priority.
  4. Work with Your Co-Parent: Whatever efforts you are making to correct your child’s bad behavior, you and your co-parent need to be consistent. Discuss with each other what the rules are for discipline and what is an appropriate response to bad behavior. If one parent has grounded a child for misbehaving, the other parent should continue that punishment when the child is with them.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Many children struggle to adjust after their parents get divorced, which makes the time they spend with each parent important. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group will make sure you are able to get enough parental responsibilities to be able to help your child through the transition. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.


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Coordinating Christmas Gifts for Children After DivorceYour first Christmas after a divorce can be a difficult adjustment for yourself and your children. Parents’ main concern is usually how they will divide parenting time during the holidays so that they both can enjoy it with their children. Gift-giving is another topic that co-parents need to discuss leading up to Christmas. Do not assume that your co-parent has the same idea about what is appropriate regarding the types of gifts you will get your children and their value. You should share your gift-giving duties in the same way as you share other child-related responsibilities and expenses.


Newly divorced parents can make a mistake by going overboard with Christmas gifts because they feel guilty about putting their children through the divorce. Exceeding your normal budget for your children’s gifts can have harmful consequences:

  • You are setting a new expectation for the value and quantity of gifts that your children receive.
  • You are teaching your children that they should expect gifts as compensation if you do something that upsets them.
  • Your personal budget after a divorce may be unable to afford more expensive gifts.

You and your co-parent should set a budget for your combined gifts for your children that is similar to what you spent when you were married. This means that each parent will give fewer gifts on their own but their combined gifts will be consistent with what the children usually receive on Christmas.

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How Courts Handle Religion in Parenting CasesThe allocation of parental responsibilities includes the responsibility to make decisions about the religious upbringing of the children. Illinois divorce courts prefer to not be in charge of deciding the religious beliefs by which the parents should raise the children. The state does not want to be seen as favoring one religion over another or dictating how people can practice their religious beliefs. If parents reach an agreement on religious upbringing, the court is instructed to approve it unless there is something unconscionable about the conditions. However, there are circumstances in which the court is forced to intervene in the parents’ religious decisions.

Lack of Agreement

When two sides in a divorce cannot reach an agreement on their own, they must take the argument to the court for a ruling. With religion, parents may disagree on:

  • Which religion the children should follow
  • Whether the children should be involved in religion at all
  • How often the children should attend religious services
  • Whether the children must follow the religion’s lifestyle guidelines

As with all parenting issues, the court’s primary concern is what is best for the children. The court will look at the extent of the children’s religious involvement up to this point and the potential consequences to each parent. Forcing children to follow a stricter religious lifestyle than they are accustomed to may make their post-divorce transition more upsetting. A parent can potentially use religion to control the children and limit their time and relationship with their other parent. On the other side of the issue, it may be unreasonable for a parent to demand that the children stop attending religious services if that has been their normal routine up to this point.

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Be Aware of the Social Media Activity of Children of DivorceChildren of divorce are often unsure of who to talk to about their feelings because their most natural outlet – their parents – is at the source of their pain. Social media is an easy alternative for them, where they can express themselves and connect with friends. Divorced parents may believe that there is no harm in letting their children withdraw into their mobile devices. After all, parents know where the children are. However, children can still get themselves into trouble on social media and are more prone to making poor decisions when experiencing a traumatic event, such as their parents' divorce.

Potential Problems

Children often fail to understand that what they say and do on social media can have real-life consequences. Posting offensive or inappropriate content reflects poorly on them now and leaves a record that could hurt them in the future, such as when they apply to a college. Sharing too much about themselves makes them appear vulnerable to people who try to exploit confused children and teenagers, such as:

  • Sexual predators;
  • Online scammers;
  • Cyberbullies; and
  • People trying to indoctrinate others into an extreme belief system.


As a divorced parent, you must protect your children from unhealthy online behavior while also respecting their need for social connections and independence. Prohibiting them from having social media accounts is difficult to enforce and will make them rebellious. Installing parental controls feels demeaning to older children and should be done only if the child has demonstrated that they cannot be responsible on their own. There are more effective ways to protect your children:

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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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