b2ap3_thumbnail_dupage-county-parenting-agreement-lawyer.jpgAs much as most divorcing parents wish they could be rid of each other’s presence in their lives forever, sharing children means constant contact even as both spouses transition away from their marriage. Even when spouses go their separate ways amicably, many events can trigger conflict - perhaps none more so than the presence of a new partner. When someone is co-parenting in Illinois and their former spouse gets remarried, the introduction of a third “parent” requires major adjustments and presents serious challenges. If you are in this situation, here is some advice from experts to help you manage. 

Ensure Your Children Are Safe

Every parent worries constantly about their children, and it is natural to be worried or even paranoid about the presence of an unknown adult in your child’s life. While this worry will probably abate on its own as you get to know your ex’s new spouse, you still need to make sure your children are safe. At the same time, you never want to ask your children leading questions or make them unnecessarily suspicious or hostile towards your ex’s new partner. This can be a tricky balancing act, but use your parental intuition to guide you if you sense something may be wrong. 

Try to Maintain Neutrality

You likely have strong feelings about your ex’s partner, and this is only natural. It is not easy to maintain a neutral relationship with your ex, let alone someone coming into the picture after your relationship fell apart. However, your children need you to maintain neutrality for several reasons. First, they need the chance to make up their own minds about this new person. Second, they need the stability you offer when you show them everything is okay. And third, children have a tendency to feel pressured to take sides in parental differences; research shows this can be harmful. Everybody benefits when heightened emotions are kept to a minimum. 


IL family lawyerMost children in Illinois have a very hard time coping with their parent's divorce. Even older children, who may understand why their parents are separating and even believe it is for the best, usually struggle with anger, resentment, and fear of abandonment. For children who have autism, however, divorce can present an overwhelming emotional challenge.

Children with autism often struggle to manage major changes and may also struggle to communicate what they are feeling. Add to this the fact that autism can make it difficult to cultivate close emotional relationships, and divorce - which removes one parent from the child’s home on an ongoing basis - can prove to be a very difficult challenge for everyone involved. If you are considering divorce and have a child on the autism spectrum, here are some tips that may make the transition easier.

Explain Changes Before They Happen

Most parents with children on the autism spectrum find that their child thrives on predictability. Change, especially sudden or unexpected change, can be very difficult for autistic children to manage well. Whenever possible, preface changes by letting your child know before they happen. Some parents find visual aids helpful, including regular reminders like calendars that make custody arrangements easy to visualize and understand. Rather than making changes all at once, try to make changes gradually so your child is not overwhelmed by everything changing at the same time.


Wheaton IL family law attorneyChristmas is just a few days away, and a week after that, 2020 will be over. This year’s holiday celebrations are likely to be different than most of us have ever experienced, as many families will only be able to get together through telephone calls or video chats. For parents who are subject to shared parenting arrangements, the holidays can be difficult enough already. Add in this year’s unique challenges, and things have the potential to be even tougher. As you look toward the approaching holidays, it is important to work with your co-parent, if possible, to help your children have the best experience you can offer them.

Communication and Compromise

If you normally share parenting time for the holidays, you and your child’s other parent should do what you can to be patient and kind to one another. Family celebrations—including video calls—may run long, and if families are getting together in person, the weather in Northern Illinois is often unpredictable. It is a good idea to plan your days out in advance, including which of you will be picking up and dropping off if there will be travel between homes, but be courteous and gracious to the other parent if things do not go exactly according to plan.

Be an Example for Your Children

It is not uncommon for family holiday celebrations to include wine, beer, and festive alcoholic beverages. For some individuals and families, however, overindulgence can be a real problem. If you plan to celebrate the holiday with your children this year, be sure to put their needs ahead of your own. Demonstrate to your children that you can celebrate with alcohol in moderation, even in the midst of one of the most difficult years most of us can remember. If you choose to drink, do not drive. Set a positive example for your children—one that you would be happy to see them follow as they become adults.


Wheaton divorce lawyerOne of the biggest worries and fears that parents have during a divorce is how the end of their marriage will affect their children. While it is no secret that divorce can put children through some stress and uncertainty, it is often the best action to take for the sake of the family. Children who are raised in unhappy households are more likely to have self-esteem problems, trust issues, and in some cases, even behavioral or emotional issues that can follow them for the rest of their lives. Telling the children about your divorce can seem like a daunting task, but these tips can help you have a meaningful and productive conversation.

Tip #1: Tell All of Your Children at the Same Time

Many parents make the mistake of not talking to all of their children together when breaking the news of their divorce. They may think that younger children should be sheltered from the news of a divorce, while older children can be trusted with this information. This often puts unfair and unnecessary stress on older children to keep the secret of the divorce from younger children. It is often best to gather your children together and tell them all at the same time to avoid any unnecessary difficulties.

Tip #2: Talk in a Way Your Kids Will Understand

Each child is going to be different when it comes to how much they understand about the divorce and what it all means. Younger children typically have a more difficult time understanding what a divorce is, so simple and clear messages usually work best when explaining things to them. Older children and teenagers tend to need more information about the news of a divorce, but you should still use caution when revealing details about why the marriage has broken down.


Wheaton divorce lawyerMany studies suggest that children of all ages are actually quite resilient when it comes to coping with their parents’ divorce, transitioning to a relatively well-adjusted new living situation within a year or two. However, there are some serious causes for concern that might require adult intervention from professionals, such as psychologists, therapists, social workers, and maybe even your child’s teachers. Be sure to look for telltale signs that professional intervention may be necessary for your child to process your divorce in a healthy manner. 

3 Behaviors That Suggest Your Child Needs Professional Intervention

As with most psychological issues, the tipping point to determine whether or not your child truly needs professional help coping with the divorce is usually evident when his or her reaction to the divorce is interfering with normal functioning and development as a child. A wide array of emotional responses—from sadness to anger—will be common, but that does not necessarily mean your child needs outside help. Here are common disruptive behaviors in reaction to the divorce that might require professional intervention:

  1. Persistent, Out-of-Character Trouble in School — From skipping classes to getting in fights, steep declines in classroom performance to withdrawal from school-related activities, dramatic shifts in academic behaviors are key indicators that something might not be right. While this could be the case with most children dealing with divorce, if these classroom behavior changes are prolonged and extreme, you might want to ask teachers and guidance counselors to keep a particularly close eye on them.


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