Tag Archives: child custody

IL divorce lawyerFew things in life are as shocking, upsetting, and heart-wrenching as discovering that your husband has another wife or entire family. In either case, not only do you have grounds for divorce, but you also may be in a position to sue for civil damages, recover a substantially larger portion of the marital property, or even press criminal charges against the bigamist.

What Is Bigamy?

Bigamy, also referred to as polygamy, is the act of marrying another person while already married to someone else. It is illegal in Illinois and is punishable as a Class 4 felony. Unfortunately, 17 percent of Americans now believe that bigamy is morally acceptable—10 percent higher than in 2001 when Gallup began keeping track of this data. While many Americans have warmed to the idea that bigamy is okay for society, the facts show otherwise. Bigamy has negative consequences for children, society at large, and the wives of the bigamist. Bigamy is almost always committed by men.

Is My Marriage Even Valid?

If you found out that your husband has another wife, the first step is to determine which marriage came first, because the second marriage is illegitimate. As such, divorce is not necessary. Issues such as child custody and child support will need to be settled in the courts by a family law attorney, however. Furthermore, division of assets and alimony are not treated the same because the marriage never existed. The victimized spouse, in this case, can pursue compensation in a civil lawsuit.

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IL family lawyerNot long ago, Illinois courts assumed that giving sole child custody to mothers was in the best interest of the child. In fact, it was not until the 1970s that most states began adopting new laws that treated mothers and fathers equally, as well as favoring joint custody over sole custody for one parent. While some believe that fathers are still discriminated against when it comes to equal custody decisions, studies have proven this to be untrue. Fathers’ rights groups have been perpetuating disinformation for over the last decade about how mothers are given preferential treatment by the courts. One Wisconsin study showed that from 1996 and 2007, divorce cases in which the mother was awarded sole custody dropped from 60.4 percent to just 45.7 percent, while shared custody increased from 15.8 percent to 30.8 percent in that same time period. Other studies have had similar findings. Yet, in some cases, fathers do face challenges.

Fathers Who Never Married the Mother of Their Child

While married mothers and fathers are generally treated equally in court when it comes to custody decisions, the same is not always true for fathers who were never married to their child’s mother. Children born out of wedlock are more likely to end up living with their mothers than fathers if it comes to a court decision.

White, College-Educated Fathers Pay Less Child Support Than Non-White, Poor Fathers

Race and income have a lot to do with how much child support a father will have to pay. In addition to wealthy men fighting against reforms that would require them to pay more in child support, white, college-educated men are more likely to get out of paying substantial child support, while poor fathers are more likely to be held accountable, tracked down, and put in jail for skipping on their child support payments.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce is very tough on children — a fact that has been well documented over many decades. Divorce has been associated with academic difficulties, disruptive and illegal behavior, low self-esteem, depression, and emotional distress. When children of divorce enter adulthood, they are more likely to live in poverty, have children out of wedlock, marry at a young age, and get divorce themselves than their peers from non-divorced families.

Because a parent’s strongest instinct is to protect their children from all of this, some spouses decide to either make the marriage work for the sake of the children, or they agree to get divorced, but only after the youngest child is on his or her way to college and out of the house. While both of these options seem like the right thing to do for your children because the family is kept in-tact, the truth is that both of these approaches may be more harmful than a simple divorce and shared custody.

How Delaying the Divorce Can Harm Your Children

Children are much more in-tuned with their parent’s emotions and thoughts than we give them credit for. Even very young children, or teenagers who are seemingly off in their own worlds, pick up on subtle insults and tension between their parents. The fact that you want to get divorced means that you are unhappy with the marriage, and that unhappiness will only intensify in the years to come as you wait for your youngest child to graduate high school. Parents may think they are helping their children by soldiering on during the marriage, but they are only doing themselves and their children a disservice. After all, one cannot fake happiness no matter how much effort is put into the facade.

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IL family lawyerIt can be tempting for a spouse to monitor the movements of the other, especially during divorce or searching for suspected infidelity. Cell phones can easily be tracked without the other spouses’ knowledge, and GPS devices the size of a coin can be hidden in vehicles without being detected. Furthermore, accessing a spouse’s emails can show what they have been up to, not just where. However, tracking or spying on a spouse in such a manner is not necessarily legal in Illinois, and by doing so and getting caught, it can have a profoundly negative effect on your divorce be creating further distrust, anger, and feelings of betrayal. GPS tracking and digital spying will most likely result in a contested divorce, as the spied-upon spouse will feel they have less reason to compromise.

Electronic GPS Tracking Can Be Illegal in Illinois

Under 720 ILCS 5/21-2.5, it is a Class A misdemeanor to place a GPS device on a person or their car, without their consent, in order to track their location. However, it becomes more complicated when the vehicle is owned jointly in a marriage. While it may not be illegal, or at least a punishable offense, for one spouse to secretly track the other, it can certainly have a negative impact on divorce decisions like child custody if it reveals the poor character of a parent.

Tampering with Computers, Such as Reading Your Spouse’s Emails

Another way that spouses keep tabs on another during divorce is by secretly accessing the other’s phone or laptop to read emails. This is also unlawful in Illinois under 720 ILCS 5/17-51. While criminal charges may never be filed, reading the emails and private messages of your spouse can:

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Il family lawyerDivorce is hard on adults. Just think how difficult it is for children, who rarely understand why their parents are separating, do not have any say in where they live or what their new lives will entail, and whose entire life schedules and normal routines are disrupted every few days or weeks when they go to stay with their other parent. As a mother or father, you can make this difficult process easier on them. The months that divorce takes will be a challenge, but you have the ability to minimize the stress and anxiety that your children experience during this time.

Refrain from Bad Mouthing the Other Parent in Front of Your Children

Children are more likely to identify with the parent that is the same gender as they are. Sons will identify with fathers, and daughters will identify with mothers. As such, if a father says to his daughter, “I hope you don’t end up being like your mother,” or makes some other crude or disrespectful comment in front of his daughter, his daughter may internalize that and her emotional development will be delayed or impaired. Even saying something negative about a son’s mother, who is a different gender than him, has a negative effect on the child. It may be tempting to bad mouth or grumble about the other parent, but this can have serious consequences on your child’s emotional and psychological state of mind.

Keeping Conflict Away from Your Children, Communication, and Maintaining a Relationship with Both Parents

Even discluding court appearances and mediation, divorce is filled with conflict between the two spouses. Children pick up on the most subtle derogatory comments just as easily as a shouting argument. Exposure to any type of conflict increases the child’s risk of developing psychological and social problems, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Parents should consider doing the following:

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