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3 Ways to Remind Your Child That Your Divorce Is Not Their FaultWhen faced with the reality of divorcing parents, many children internalize the struggle between the parents. They are usually not privy to the countless closed-door disagreements and difficulties that may have existed for years. Instead, children will often turn inward, blaming themselves for their parents’ inability to get along and, ultimately, for the divorce. While you and your spouse may understand that it is not your child’s fault, it is your responsibility to make sure that your child understands as well.

#1: Talk Openly, But Carefully

If possible, you and your spouse should talk to your child together about your impending divorce before it becomes a reality. The two of you need to make clear that the divorce is based on issues between the adults. Your child did not cause it, and your child cannot fix it. It is also important to be age-appropriate when considering what details to share with your child. For example, the challenges of raising children may have, in fact, contributed to the breakdown of your marriage. Your first-grader, however, may interpret that as being to blame by nature of his or her existence.

#2: Invite Communication

Once your child knows about your divorce, it is important not to place expectations on him or her regarding how to handle the news. Everyone — adults and children — will need to deal with the situation in their own ways. Do not ask your child to keep secrets; instead, share only as much as you would be comfortable with other people knowing. Do not demand that your child talks to you. Instead, provide a safe environment for him or her to express feelings and concerns without judgment or consequences.

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McHenry County family lawyerWhen a couple gets married, it is not at all uncommon for a spouse to take her partner’s last name as a symbol of their union. Some partners choose to hyphenate their surnames so as to keep their own identity while adding their spouse’s name to theirs. When a marriage comes to an end, it is relatively easy—and usually part of the standard divorce paperwork—for a spouse who changed her name to change it back during the proceedings. But, what about the children of a divorcing couple? It turns out that changing the name of a minor child in Illinois may be more complicated than most people realize.

What Does the Law Say?

Most legal details surrounding marriage and divorce are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5), but name changes are typically made in accordance with the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5). The statute provides that changing the name of a minor child will only be approved if the court finds “by clear and convincing evidence that the change is necessary to serve the best interest of the child.” A separate provision in the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 (750 ILCS 46) allows for a child’s name to be changed if both parents agree, though this law is typically utilized in cases of unmarried parents or when parentage is in question.

Considerations of the Court

According to the law, when considering a name change for a minor child, the court is required to take into account all of the relevant factors of the case, including:

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Five Keys When Telling Your Children About Your DivorceTelling your children about your divorce may be the most difficult conversation you have throughout the process. Unlike most people you talk to, your decision to divorce will directly and irreversibly affect your children’s daily lives. The news will cause pain to your children and stir up other feelings that may lead to outbursts or emotional withdrawal. Your initial divorce conversation with your children is important because it is one of the lasting memories they will have about your divorce. You should prepare for the talk while keeping these suggestions in mind:

  1. Have Everyone Together: Even though you and your spouse are not getting along, it is important that you tell your children about your divorce together. You need to show your children that you are still dedicated to working together as their co-parents – just not as a married couple. You should also try to have all of your children together for the same conversation because this is a decision that affects the entire family.
  2. Remain Calm: Your emotions will set a tone for the conversation. Being calm and compassionate may not prevent your children from becoming upset but is the best way to soothe them. Showing that you are upset may escalate your children’s emotions, making things worse.
  3. Focus on the Children: Your children do not need to hear the details about why you are getting a divorce. The most important thing to them is how the divorce will affect them. They want to know where they will live and how often they will see each of you. Though you may not know the answers yet, tell them that you will both still be an active part of their lives.
  4. Understand Age Differences: A teenager’s understanding of divorce may be more advanced than a younger child. With younger children, you may need to spend more time explaining what a divorce means. Older children may have enough of an understanding that they want to ask more specific questions about your divorce. Both will be upset by the news, though a younger child may show more obvious signs.
  5. Be Adaptable: It is fine to prepare a script for how you will start your divorce conversation and answer expected questions. However, you need to watch how your children are reacting and respond in an appropriate way. Your children may surprise you with how they respond to the news, which may force you to go off-script.

Contact a McHenry County Divorce Attorney

Your children are just as affected by your divorce as you are, and the decisions you make during your divorce must have their best interest in mind. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you create a comprehensive parenting plan for after your divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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A Divorced Parent's Guide to Giving Holiday GiftsReceiving holiday presents is supposed to be an exciting event for your children, but divorce can instead make it stressful. As their parent, you must preserve the joyousness of the tradition. This may mean working with your co-parent or swallowing your pride to keep your children happy. Here are five tips for giving holiday gifts after divorce:

  1. Do Not Make Gift-Giving a Competition: The holidays can become a proxy war between co-parents who try to buy their children’s affection and loyalty through presents. Some parents undermine each other by buying more expensive versions of the same gift. Children can see your motivation for giving the gift and feel pressured to pick a side between parents. You have made giving the present more about yourself than your child.
  2. Try to Coordinate Your Shopping: You may unknowingly buy the same gift for your child as your co-parent because your child has shared the same gift list with both of you. This will make you disappointed and your child sad for hurting your feelings. You can avoid this by talking to your co-parent about who will buy which gifts. If there is a particularly expensive gift, you can agree to share the cost.
  3. Let Your Gifts Travel with Your Child: Some divorced parents give a present with the condition that it must stay at their home. You should allow your children to take their gifts to whichever home they want. Putting conditions on your gift once again makes the gift more about you than your child, who will enjoy the gift more if he or she is free to use it without restriction.
  4. Respect Your Co-Parent’s Wishes: You may disagree with your co-parent about what are appropriate gifts, given your child’s maturity or your co-parent’s values. Do not give your child a gift that you know that your co-parent will disapprove. You will create conflict between your child and your co-parent if your co-parent tries to take the gift away.
  5. Help Your Children with Their Shopping: Your children want to give their own presents to your co-parent but may not be old enough to pick out and pay for them on their own. You may need to help your children with their shopping and pay for gifts. Make sure your children pick out good gifts because it is important to them to make their other parent happy.

Contact a McHenry County divorce attorney

Your time may be the most important gift you can give your children during the holidays. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you negotiate your parenting time schedule during your divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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How Your Children's School Can Help Them During Your DivorceIt is important to remember that you are not alone when you are trying to help your children adjust to your divorce. Family, friends, and professionals can all play a role in getting your children through the sadness and uncertainty that comes with the sudden change in their lives. Your children’s school can be a vital resource during your divorce. Your children may spend more time with their teachers than with any other adults, outside of yourself and your spouse. With the new school year starting, now is a good time to talk to teachers and counselors at your child’s school about how they can help your child during your divorce.

Teachers

When children are in elementary school, they spend most of the day with one teacher, who is in charge of their education and development. Your child’s teacher should know about the divorce because:

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