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St. Charles child custody attorneyThere is a long-standing debate among psychologists and in divorce courts as to a specific definition of the term “parental alienation syndrome”. While child psychologists have been discussing parental alienation syndrome for over three decades, the debate surrounding it continues in part because it is not always easy to correctly identify.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation syndrome, or PAS, is alleged to occur when one parent creates a contrived illusion to the child or children regarding the child’s other parent. This often leads to the child experiencing manipulated, negative emotions toward and detachment from the other parent.

In cases where there are allegations of PAS, it is often because one parent believes that the other parent is deliberately working to undermine their relationship with the child. This may occur in situations where one parent is disrespectful to the other parent in front of the children or when one parent perceives that the child has developed angry or dismissive feelings toward them due to the actions or words of the other parent. 

Posted on in Child Custody

Kane County child relocation lawyerSometimes, life changes unexpectedly. A new job, new relationship, or death in the family may necessitate a move, but relocating your family is almost never easy. Moving with your child can be especially difficult during or in the wake of a divorce, as Illinois law places restrictions on relocating with children. In many cases, one parent’s desire to move must be balanced with the other parent’s right to parenting time and their children’s interests in staying where they are comfortable.

Illinois Child Relocation Laws

Before 2016, Illinois law held that a single or divorced parent could uproot their children for any destination within the state, but if they chose to leave the state even by a very small distance, permission from either the other spouse or the family court was required. With the revamping of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) in 2016, a new approach was adopted for parents who have at least half of the parenting time with their children.

Under the current law, a parent living in Kane County, Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, McHenry County, or Will County can move with their child to a new residence within Illinois, up to 25 miles from the original home, without the consent of the other parent or the family court. If a parent resides with their child outside of those counties, the allowable distance is increased to 50 miles, simply because the middle and southern counties in the state of Illinois are larger and less dense than the six counties immediately surrounding Chicago. If a parent wants to move outside the state of Illinois, they are still allowed to do so within a distance of 25 miles without seeking permission. However, it is important to remember that within that distance, Illinois remains the home state of the child for purposes of disputes over parental responsibilities. 

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.

Posted on in Divorce

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.

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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