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b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce_640.jpgIf you are married or in a serious relationship, you probably already know that there are nearly infinite topics couples argue about. While many couples are able to weather such arguments, other relationships begin to crumble and may head toward divorce. Some couples argue about money while others argue about sex or household chores. A new study shows that there is one topic that seems especially controversial in many marriages: when the children should go to bed.

The study from Penn State University has found that disagreements over children’s bedtime can lead to major tension in the marriage and can even lead to divorce. The researchers surveyed 167 mothers and 155 fathers about their child or children’s bedtime routine. The study found that mothers who believed young children should be tended to throughout the night had more tension and worse communication with the child's father than other mothers. Couples also disagreed about how and when children should be put to sleep.  

Frank and Honest Communication Can Prevent Disagreements Later in the Marriage

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b2ap3_thumbnail_parental-alienation2_640.jpgDivorce proceedings can be a difficult and painful experience for all involved, including the children. This is doubly true if they are old enough to understand what is going on. It is only natural that they may develop opinions on some of the issues pending in your divorce. However, in some instances, their opinions will actually carry weight with the judge. Nowhere is this more common than with issues involving parenting time.

How Much Weight to Give?

When parenting time arrangements come down to the decision of a judge, he or she must take into account a number of factors. A child’s preference may be one of them, though it will get no more weight than any of the other possible elements. A partial list of all the considerations a judge must weigh includes:

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Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_secretive-couple.jpgThousands of couples end their relationship because of infidelity every year. For some, one incident of infidelity is enough to ruin a marriage. In other relationships, the person who cheated may have been given second or third chances to change their behavior and did not do so. Eventually one partner decides that the relationship cannot continue and files for divorce. Many famous celebrities and political figures have struggled with infidelity. Tiger Woods, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, and Arnold Schwarzenegger—just to name a few—have all been caught or admitted to being unfaithful to their spouses.

Risk vs. Reward

Recent research shows that 2-4% of spouses admit to cheating on their spouse in the last year. There are several schools of thought about why people cheat. A number of theories suggest that people weigh the costs and benefits of infidelity. If a couple has invested a lot of quality time together, their tendency to cheat will be less than that of couples who have not invested as much time into the relationship. Spouses calculate the risk verse the reward of cheating.

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Posted on in Mediation

b2ap3_thumbnail_custody3_640.jpgAny good parent wants as much time with their children as is possible to obtain. Sometimes, however, a parent will question the wisdom of letting the other parent see the children at all, or may try to place restrictions on visitation. In these types of situations, one remedy can be to go to court, but in recent years, it has become more common to utilize mediation to address custody and parenting concerns.

The Role of Your Attorney

There are some misunderstandings about the role of an attorney in a non-courtroom proceeding, but in truth, the attorney’s role is very similar to their role in a standard divorce. An experienced legal professional can always provide advice and guidance, regardless of who the trier of fact may be. Most people at least consult attorneys before beginning mediation, primarily to ensure that their goals are attainable and realistic within the confines of the law. However, it is the mediator, not the attorney or attorneys, who is tasked with facilitating an agreement between you and the other parent.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_social-media-e-discovery_640.jpgFacebook and other forms of social media have become incredibly popular outlets for expressing one’s daily thoughts and opinions in today’s society. In fact, Facebook recently announced that it now boasts more than two billion—yes, billion with a “b”—monthly users. Those going through a divorce, however, should exercise extreme caution when it comes to utilizing social media during divorce proceedings. While posting updates or pictures may seem innocent, almost any personal detail could be exploited by a former partner for his or her own advantage.

Courts Do Review Social Media Activity

During a divorce, all aspects of a couple’s life are subject to scrutiny by the court. Information posted on Facebook and other social sites, whether it be posted by an individual involved in a divorce or a third party, can cast a particular spouse in a negative light during divorce proceedings.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Prenuptial-Agreement2_640.jpgA significant number of couples in this day and age execute premarital agreements—also called prenuptial agreements—to help settle any potentially thorny issues before their marriage. However, not every premarital agreement can be implemented as written. Some provisions are contrary to existing laws, and some are contrary to what is referred to as public policy. It can be more difficult to establish that something is against public policy, but it can be done, and if an agreement is found to violate public policy, it may be declared void.

Defining Public Policy

Public policy is defined as the principle or legal tenet that detracting from the “public good” is an event to be avoided. In other words, if an action shocks the conscience or the sensibilities of the general public, it is generally to be avoided because the public should be protected from injury if possible. This commonly comes up in issues of divorce and child custody, though public policy questions may appear in many different legal arenas. In Illinois, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governs such issues in regard to prenuptial contracts.

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Posted on in Child Custody

b2ap3_thumbnail_Parent-Holds-The-Hand-Of-Child_640.jpgIn the past, if a couple with children split up, the children almost always stayed with their mother. Fathers seldom saw their children and were often not very active or involved. Today, families exist in countless different arrangements and forms. Children splitting their time between two houses is now a new norm. How can a parent who shares their child with an ex make the most of the time he or she has? There is no magic way to be the perfect part-time parent but there are some things you can do to help you be the best mom or dad possible.

Think Quality Over Quantity

Many couples stay in an unhappy marriage because they are concerned about their children. It is extremely difficult for mothers and fathers who have been in their children’s’ lives since the beginning to imagine going a weekend without them. Some parents worry that their child will become distant or feel unloved. Co-parenting does not have to be a negative situation for anyone. One step you can take is to change your thinking. While it is true that you will see your child for a lesser amount of time, this does not mean your relationship with him or her needs to suffer. Use the time you have with your child to do something special and meaningful. Take this one-on-one time with your child to get to know them better. You may find that having less time with your child makes it easier to prioritize what really matters.

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Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-during-pregnancy_600x400.pngWhile all romantic relationships can be complicated at times, nothing changes the dynamic of a relationship more than a pregnancy. Some couples find out they are expecting and it is a huge surprise. Other couples may plan for the pregnancy for years and are thrilled when it happens. Too often, however, couples think that a baby will make their marriage stronger, help ease their arguments, and make the atmosphere inside the relationship happier. While this may work in some cases, having a baby is not usually the solution for a struggling marriage. Having a child, while an exciting and wonderful experience, is not a fix-all to marital problems. What should you do when you realize you want to leave the relationship while your partner is pregnant?

Find the Path That Works for You

Some couples will choose to separate until after they baby is born and then file for divorce. Some states even require legal separation before a divorce filing can be made. Other couples wait until after the baby is born to make the final decision. The first step when considering leaving a spouse who is pregnant is to speak to a lawyer about the situation. He or she will be capable of guiding you to make the best decision for your particular circumstances. Keep in mind that laws regarding the divorce of a pregnant spouse vary from state to state.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Joint-custody600-1.pngJesse Williams, star of the television show Grey’s Anatomy, has filed for joint custody of his two children after announcing his divorce from his wife Aryn Drake-Lee. Williams reports that he does not get to spend as much time with the children as he would like. The actor indicated in court documents that his estranged spouse “restricts my time with the children and decides when, and for how long I may have them.” He further claimed that he has requested additional time with his children, including overnights, but their mother “has insisted that my time with the children be limited during the week to approximately two and half hours per day.” Williams has requested a court order for joint physical custody of his children. 

Television stars are not the only ones who can find themselves in a complicated custodial situation. Many individuals find themselves spending less time with their children than they would like. Unfortunately, some ex-spouses withhold parenting time from the other parent as a way to stay in control of the situation. Studies regarding child development, however, have shown repeatedly that children are happier, healthier, and make better life choices when they have both parents involved in their lives. 

A Casual Custodial Agreement is Not Always the Best Choice

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b2ap3_thumbnail_stepparent-adoption_600x400.pngYears ago, child custody arrangements following a divorce almost always defaulted to the mother being given full-time custody while the father was relegated to having a couple of weekend visitations each month. Under this arrangement, fathers may have been able to create some bonding moments, but overall the quality of parent-child bond was generally lacking.

Over the last several decades, however, research has increasingly shown that this “traditional” custody scenario is one of the least healthy arrangements for children. Instead, experts recommend that children spend at least 35 percent of the time with each parent instead of simply living with one and visiting the other on occasion.  

Benefits of Both Parents Having Significant Parenting Time

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