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How Does Mental Illness Affect Parental Rights in an Illinois Divorce?Many adults experience mental illness during their lifetime. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in any given year. While mental illness can be naturally occurring, it can also be triggered by major events in your life, such as divorce. Mental illness will not typically factor into divorce decisions, but it can be an issue to address when making decisions related to children, namely, decisions about parenting time or decision-making responsibilities.

Elements to Consider When Making Child-Related Decisions

Any child-related issue that must be settled during a divorce is made in the child’s best interests. If the parents disagree on what is in the child’s best interests, then a judge will have to intervene and make decisions about the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities for the parents. When making these decisions, the judge will look at various factors, including:

  • The wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity
  • The ability of the parents to cooperate with each other
  • The level of conflict that may exist between the parents
  • The wishes of each parent
  • The needs of the child
  • The ability and willingness of both parents to facilitate a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
  • The mental and physical health of both parents and the child

It is the judge’s job to understand the family dynamic as accurately as possible so that he or she can ensure the child has a happy and healthy life.

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4 Things That Might Surprise You About Your DivorceAside from the death of a loved one, getting a divorce is the most stressful event that is likely to happen in a person’s life. This is because a divorce encompasses almost everything in your life, from where you live and how much time you spend with your children, to your monthly expenses and tax implications. The process of divorcing your spouse is not just a legal one; it is as much an emotional process as it is anything else. While people may tell you that you will be much happier after your divorce is over, there are plenty of realities that nobody really talks about. Here are a few things that you may not be prepared for when it comes to life after your Illinois divorce:

#1: You Will Probably Feel a Sense of Loss, Even If You Initiated the Divorce

Getting a divorce is a huge change in your life. Even if you were the one who wanted the divorce because you believed that your marriage had broken down beyond repair, you will still probably feel a mix of emotions, such as sadness, anxiety, and loss. Getting a divorce is a major life transition, and you not only lose your spouse as a life partner, but you may also lose your relationships with others who are associated with your spouse, such as their family and friends. Adjusting to this loss can take time.

#2: You Might Get Mixed Reactions From Family and Friends

Unfortunately, a divorce can bring out the worst in people, including your loved ones. You may find that some people in your family treat you differently and that some of the people that you considered to be your friends will not be there for you when you need them. On the other hand, you may also find that some people that you were never really close to before may step forward and offer the love and support that you need.

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What Should I Expect From an Initial Consultation With a Divorce Attorney?If you have made the decision to pursue a divorce, the first few steps of the process can be frightening and overwhelming. It is understandable that you would not know exactly what to do or what you should expect. You could also just be emotionally drained from trying to handle everything on your own. The good news is that a qualified divorce lawyer can help. Your attorney is an ally who is committed to protecting your rights and best interests while he or she guides you through the divorce process — and it all begins with your initial consultation. Before you go in for your first meeting, you should have an idea of what to expect and how to make the most of your time.

Understanding the Reason for Your Consultation

Many people assume that an initial consultation with a lawyer is basically a glorified sales pitch, but this is quite far from the truth. A legal consultation is not the lawyer’s attempt to sell you a service that you do not need. Rather, it is an opportunity to see if you and the lawyer — or the law firm as a whole — are a good match for one another. This is important because the attorney you choose will be your advocate and partner in the very serious matter of your divorce.

One thing to look for in your consultation is whether the lawyer is willing to listen and to make you feel protected. You should also feel that your attorney is knowledgeable in the areas that are likely to be points of contention in your divorce. For example, if your divorce involves particularly complex financial concerns, you should hire a lawyer who knows the laws as they pertain to identifying, evaluating, and dividing marital property and who has experience with complicated financial situations. If during the consultation you feel that the attorney is not up to the task, you should be willing to think about hiring someone else.

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5 Reasons to Hire a Lawyer for Your Illinois DivorceDivorce has become common enough that some couples seek to lower costs by purchasing “at-home” divorce kits and filing their own legal paperwork. In some situations, this approach can work, but most couples will save time, money, and stress by partnering with a skilled divorce lawyer to walk them through the process. There are a number of very important reasons to consult with a lawyer on all divorce-related concerns. Consider some of the most common:

Reason #1: Experience Is Key

Divorce lawyers handle divorce cases on a daily basis. As a result, even lawyers who have been practicing for only a few years have seen all types of cases and circumstances. Lawyers know the law, the courts, and the local judges. They can also bring up important points that you might not consider while trying to handle things on your own.

Reason #2: Lawyers Offer Informed Advice

Because divorce attorneys have seen it all, they are among the best sources for answers to questions about the divorce process. They understand spousal maintenance payments, property division, and parenting arrangements. While all divorces can benefit from legal representation, complicated divorces practically require a skilled lawyer for advice and representation.

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Can I Appeal My Illinois Divorce Judgment?In most cases involving divorce or family law matters, the parties are able to negotiate an agreement outside of the courtroom. They only require the court to approve and formalize terms already drafted, with very little actual decision-making happening during the approval. Sometimes, though, the parties cannot reach an agreement and the matter is left to the court to decide. Such a ruling by the court typically carries an air of finality, especially if it feels like you were on the “losing” end. A less than favorable judgment is not necessarily the end, however, and filing an appeal could potentially allow you to work toward setting things right.

Act Quickly

Following the entry of the initial court’s judgment, you have 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal. The notice must be filed with the circuit court and announces your intention to challenge all or part of the judgment and the relief that you intend to seek. The reviewing or appellate court may grant an extension for up to an additional 30 days, but only if you have a justified reason for missing the original deadline.

Correcting Mistakes

It is crucially important to remember that appeal is not really a second chance to present your case. Instead, an appeal is typically based on a perceived error committed during the initial trial. Such a mistake may include:

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