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Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_ego-1.pngThe term narcissist is used colloquially to refer to selfish or vain individuals. However, there is a medical condition known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder which can be very destructive both to sufferers and to those in relationships with them. The disorder can become so pervasive in some situations that it is practically impossible to maintain a healthy marriage, and divorce is not uncommon.

Published by the American Psychiatric Association, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the most widely used diagnostic tool for diagnosing psychiatric and psychological conditions, including Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Those diagnosed with the disorder commonly display similar symptoms, including:

  • A pattern of grandiosity and the need for admiration: Narcissists tend to believe that they are better than others and need almost constant attention and admiration;
  • Lack of empathy toward others: Narcissists are unable to understand and respond to the feelings and needs of others. They may come off as cold and uncaring;
  • Sense of entitlement: Narcissists generally feel entitled to special treatment and sometimes think they are above usual rules and boundaries.
  • Problematic envy or jealousy: In many cases, narcissists do not want to share attention with others and will create reasons for them to be the center of attention. This could include “making a scene” in a restaurant or at a family function;
  • Unrealistic expectations of others: Many narcissists make those in a relationship with them—including spouses, children, parents, and other family members—feel like nothing they do is ever good enough;
  • Preoccupation with fantasies of success, beauty, approval, or achievement: Narcissists often struggle to see the world as it really is, instead viewing the world through a skewed lens of self-importance; and
  • Arrogant, egotistical behavior and attitudes: Narcissists typically refuse to take responsibility for their actions or to be accountable for their behavior. They tend to convince themselves that someone or something else causes every problem in their life. They often view themselves as perpetual victims.

Developing Problems

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b2ap3_thumbnail_social-media-options_640.pngWhen you are going through a divorce, it can be tempting to vent on social media, especially if you believe it to be safe from public view. However, it is still possible in most cases for your spouse’s attorney to use any ill-timed or ill-conceived social media post against you. If you are not careful, poorly timed social media posts can cost you money or even parenting time with your children. It is imperative to understand your rights and responsibilities in this area.

What Constitutes Social Media?

There is a pervasive misconception that only networks like Facebook and Twitter count as social media during of divorce. In reality, the designation also includes text messages, e-mails and anything of that nature that is intended to be shared via technology with another person or people. Media sent from a cell phone counts just as much as that viewed or sent from a computer, and many are unaware that these types of communication fall under the umbrella of social media.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_prenuptial-agreement6_640.jpgIn this day and age, more and more couples are signing prenuptial agreements before they wed to safeguard their own interests if the marriage fails. The mere act of creating a document like a prenuptial agreement is not sufficient to ensure its validity, however; certain provisions in the document can actually render the entire agreement null and void. Doing some research can help ensure that yours remains valid.

A Change in Property Distribution Rules

While prenuptial agreements—also known as prenups—have become more popular in general, Illinois law has helped contribute to a specific uptick in their use. Before the substantial reforms to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) which took effect in January of last year, property purchased “in contemplation of marriage” was normally held to be marital property and, therefore, subject to the state’s equitable distribution laws. After modification, this was changed significantly, with the law holding that just because property was purchased or received in contemplation of marriage, it did not make that property marital. Thus, a private agreement is often necessary in order to equitably distribute such property.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Conflict_640.jpgMany married individuals have encountered a similar dilemma. They open their spouse’s laptop and see an extremely personal email to a person they do not know. Others read text messages on their partner’s cell phone and discover flirtatious texts to his or her ex-lover. Still others may notice that their spouse seems to spend a tremendous amount of time with a certain coworker and wonder if it might be related to the high credit card bills they have been receiving. Such couples may be seeing the first signs of an emotional affair, which—if left unchecked—could lead them down the path toward a divorce.

What Is an Emotional Affair?

Marriage therapist Sheri Meyers says, “An emotional affair is essentially an affair of the heart.” Emotional affairs can take many different forms but often include flirtatious or deeply personal conversations, sharing private details about marital problems, or complaining about a current spouse’s flaws. A person engaged in an emotional affair begins to see the other person as more important than their spouse. He or she might fantasize about this individual and become distant or withdrawn at home.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_guardian-minor-children-600x400.jpgSometimes, parents prove unwilling or unable to take care of their children. In these scenarios, there are several options for the children to receive care, but one that is becoming increasingly common is for a grandparent or grandparents to step in. A decade ago, there were around 100,000 grandparents raising their grandchildren in Illinois, and the number has only risen since then. If you are in a position where you may decide to raise your grandchildren, there is a process to follow to ensure everything is legally sound.

Obtaining Physical Custody and Parental Responsibilities

There are several different options for grandparents to obtain decision-making power over their grandchildren, as well as physical custody of the children. The most commonly used is to bring an action for parental responsibility under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). There are two scenarios under this law in which a grandparent could conceivably obtain physical custody. The first is if the child is not in the physical custody of their parent—if the parents are both deceased, for example, or if one or both parents voluntarily abandoned the child. The second is if one parent is deceased and the other is missing or incarcerated. If either of these applies to your family situation, the IMDMA is likely the best law under which to bring your petition.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_summer-parties-liability_600x400-1.pngThe weather is getting warmer, and schoolchildren can hardly stay in their seats. This can only mean one thing: summer break is nearly upon us. While your children are excited for the break from school, you may be worrying about how this break will affect your parenting time schedule. Experts offer some guidelines to ensure the smoothest transition into summer possible.

Have a Plan

If you and your spouse are in the process of getting a divorce, do not wait to spell out custody and parenting agreements for the summer. It is always better to be proactive rather than reactive. Communication can stop problems and disagreements from occurring even before they start. If you are already divorced and have a custody agreement in place, take some time to go over it and verify the dates and arrangements with your ex-spouse.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_digital-assets-1.pngProperty division in a divorce can become as contentious and stressful as any other aspect of the process. In today's world, however, dividing marital assets may be even more complicated than ever before. With more and more people owning digital property, many divorcing spouses have questions regarding how division works in this particular area.

Whether the issue concerns physical assets or digital property, a person going through a divorce can benefit greatly from having a legal professional at his or her side, but qualified help is especially important when it comes intangible property

What Are Digital Assets?

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Posted on in Family Law

b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce_640_20170912-182941_1.jpgAccording to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 40% of both men and women have been victims of “coercive control” by their significant other. This is a form of domestic violence which is rarely talked about but is sadly common. Abuse in a relationship does not always involve physical acts like hitting and pushing. Often, abuse perpetuated by a significant other is psychological. The term “coercive control” refers to acts of manipulation, harassment, and humiliation which are meant to tear down an individual’s sense of independence and to make the victim question his or her own sanity. One of these tactics is “gaslighting.”

What Is Gaslighting?

The term “gaslighting” traces its roots to a 1938 play and 1944 movie called Gas Light in which a husband emotionally manipulates and abuses his wife. Individuals who gaslight use psychological tactics to make the victim feel as if they “are going crazy.” Abusers often deny that events or conversations occurred, make up stories and lies, and isolate their victims from friends and family. The behavior is meant to gain control over the victim by making them question their own thoughts and beliefs.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_collaborative-divorce_600x400.jpgMany people feel as though they are stuck in a bad marriage due to the state of their finances. If you are dependent on your spouse’s income, you may be able to get temporary financial support for yourself and for your children as you work your way through the process of divorce.

Defining Temporary Maintenance

Under Illinois law, this type of support is called “temporary maintenance” and “temporary child support.” Temporary maintenance is often more easily awarded than standard maintenance—also known as alimony—which, when necessary, is awarded for longer periods of time after the divorce is final.  

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b2ap3_thumbnail_inheritance-rights_640-1.pngGetting married can be an extremely happy time in a person’s life. During this time, you may be focused on the wedding day and your upcoming honeymoon. However, spending some time on a properly-drafted prenuptial agreement could ensure your future happiness, even in the event of a divorce. Protecting assets received as an inheritance, for example, is made much easier with an effective prenuptial agreement than doing so without one. As a result, it is important to stress that during a divorce proceedings, absent a prenuptial agreement, it may be too late to protect vacation homes, rare collectables, and other inherited assets.

Strategies for Protecting Inherited Assets in Divorce

In Illinois, the law draws a distinction between marital property and separate property, specifically recognizing inherited assets as non-marital property in most cases. However, inherited assets that are combined with marital assets and used for family purposes can lose their identity as separate property, regardless of a person’s intentions. With that in mind, there are a few strategies for protecting inherited assets during divorce:

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