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Naperville prenuptial agreement attorneyIn most cases, marriage is meant to be a permanent partnership, and a couple will plan to stay together for the rest of their lives. However, it is important to remember that a significant percentage of marriages end in divorce. While the actual divorce rate in the United States is difficult to determine accurately, it is generally considered to be between 40 and 50%. Even though it may be unpleasant to contemplate, recognizing the distinct possibility that your marriage may end in the future can help you consider how you want certain issues to be handled in a potential divorce.

By discussing these matters with your partner before you get married, you can determine whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you. This type of legal agreement can provide both of you with reassurance that you will have the financial resources you need if your marriage ends, and by making decisions now, you can take some of the uncertainty and conflict out of the divorce process. A prenup can also include provisions to ensure that certain assets will be given to your children, or it can be used to protect a business that you or your partner own from being negatively affected by a divorce.

Terms of a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenup will usually focus on financial matters related to the property owned by you or your partner, the assets you acquire during your marriage, and the income that each of you earns. You can specify how property will be divided or allocated if you get divorced or separated, if one spouse dies, or in the case of many other events that you may specify. Your prenup can also include terms detailing each spouse’s rights and responsibilities toward different assets during your marriage, including the right to buy, sell, use, manage, exchange, or lease property.

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Naperville divorce modification attorneyThere are many different important decisions made during a divorce, and in many cases, one or both parties may be unhappy with the final divorce decree or judgment. Fortunately, these decisions are not necessarily “set in stone.” If things have changed in your life or your former partner’s situation, or if you need to make adjustments to better meet your children’s needs, you may be able to pursue a post-divorce modification. However, you should be sure to understand what can and cannot be changed and the procedures that you will need to follow when doing so.

Allowed Modifications to a Divorce Order

While there are some parts of your divorce agreement or judgment that may be changed, one issue that cannot be updated after divorce is the division of marital property. Even if you believe that this division was unfair or did not take certain factors into account, you will be unable to reopen that issue and change the decisions that were made.

Other decisions, however, may be modified, but to do so, you will need to show that you, your ex-spouse, or your children have experienced or will experience a “substantial change in circumstances.” These changes could include the loss of a job or a promotion or demotion that has affected one party’s income, or it could involve significant changes in a person’s needs or abilities, such as a medical condition that would cause a parent to be unable to provide care for children. It may be possible to seek a modification of the following issues:

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Naperville IL divorce attorneyFor some couples, the idea of planning for divorce seems downright unnecessary. Not everyone sees the end of their marriage coming, even when it has been unraveling for some time. It is easy to remain in denial or to be so swept up in work, friends, and other activities that you do not realize the marriage is over until the warning signs are unmistakable. Marriages can end suddenly, and when they do, couples are often left to race around and pick up the pieces, with little to no preparation at all. 

How to Start Preparing for an Illinois Divorce

If you were not expecting your relationship to end so abruptly, you may be left with little choice but to face the music and begin chipping away at the filing process. Even the most peaceful splits entail a great deal of work from both parties. From arranging parenting plans and discussing possible spousal maintenance to dividing assets and planning for relocation, your hands will likely be full as you are thrust into the separation experience.

If you, like many spouses, feel blindsided by your suddenly imminent divorce, you can make the filing process as efficient as possible by making the following preparations:

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Naperville IL parenting plan attorneyOut of all the issues that divorcing couples must decide on, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time can often be the most difficult. Even in the most amicable of divorces, child custody decisions can become heated. This is why it is important to have a skilled DuPage County family law attorney working for you when drawing up an equitable parenting plan agreement.

Important Considerations in an Illinois Parenting Plan

Although it may seem impossible to be proactive for every situation that may come up, there is a range of decisions that you and the other parent will want to make sure you address in order to avoid serious parenting disagreements in the future. These topics include:

  • A basic parenting time schedule – The parenting schedule should clarify how much time the child will spend with each parent. The schedule should also spell out clearly who will be responsible for transporting the child for parenting time exchanges. If there are no safety concerns, and both parents get along fairly well, exchanges are usually done at each other’s homes. However, if there is too much acrimony between parents, then a neutral location may be better. In cases where safety is a concern, such as when domestic violence has been an issue, then locations such as police departments may be chosen.

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Naperville IL divorce lawyerWe experience stress every day, whether we are at work, at school, or even just dealing with mundane tasks, but major life events like a divorce can put even more stress on you as you deal with the immense pressure of making decisions that will affect you and your family for the rest of your life. Fortunately, there are certain things you can do to help yourself through this troubling time. Here are a few tips to help keep your stress levels to a minimum during your divorce:

#1. Get Your Priorities in Order

Before you even begin making decisions in your divorce, you should know what you want out of the divorce. What is most important to you? Do you want to make absolutely sure that you get your fair share of the marital property? Or are you more concerned with getting the parenting time you want? Figure out what your priorities are, and focus the majority of your time and energy on them.

#2. Allow Yourself to Grieve

Technically, a divorce is the ending of a legal relationship, but as much as it is a legal matter, it is also an emotional matter. You are ending what was once a very important relationship in your life. It is only natural that you feel sad, angry, or even depressed. Allowing yourself to fully feel what your body and mind are telling you to feel is the only way you can grieve, heal, and move on with your life.

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Naperville IL divorce attorneyFiling for divorce is a momentous decision. Before you begin the process, it is a good idea to ensure that you are prepared in every way possible. The last thing you want is to be knee-deep in divorce proceedings and realize you are unprepared to navigate a critical question. 

Preparing For Divorce Financially

The first thing any professional will recommend is to begin saving money. It is not only attorneys that cost money—you will likely encounter many different bills, and without your spouse’s income, it may be harder to pay them. It is imperative, however, that you do not attempt to hide your assets, at least not money such as your paycheck that can be considered marital property. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property is distributed to the spouses in the most equitable manner possible upon a divorce. Concealing money that is earmarked as marital property, as spouses’ paychecks usually are, can lead to accusations of hiding assets.  

It is also a good idea to consult a financial professional sooner rather than later, bringing any financial documents you have so that you can develop a realistic picture of your finances at the outset of a divorce. A professional will be able to give specialized, individualized advice as to whether you should take the step of closing joint accounts or opening a private account, or what to do with certain assets like stocks and retirement accounts. These instruments are so individual, and each situation so unique, that often, only a professional can assess your potential financial issues with any degree of accuracy.

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Naperville business valuation attorneysBusiness ownership is a key asset that you must include in your divorce. Even if you started your business before you married, the amount that your business increased in value during your marriage will likely be part of your marital property. Calculating the value of your business is a vital step because it will affect how you divide other marital properties. If you wish to maintain complete ownership of your business as part of your divorce, a higher valuation may force you to compensate your spouse with more assets. Business valuation for a divorce can be complicated and requires professionals with experience in both divorce and business.

Choosing a Valuation Method

There are multiple ways that you can calculate the value of your business:

  • The asset approach values the assets that a business owns and subtracts the liabilities to calculate its total value.
  • The income approach looks at the business’s past profits and cash flow to predict its future income.
  • The market approach estimates what the business would be worth in a sale based on the recent sales of similar businesses.

A business evaluator may consider all of the methods, but the valuation method that they rely on the most will depend on the type of business that you own. For instance, the market approach may not be useful if there is not a comparable business that was sold, and the asset approach becomes more difficult if your business has a lot of intangible assets.

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DuPage County divorce attorneysAn inheritance is property that you receive when a loved one passes away. Though the death of a loved one is often a tragic event, an inheritance can provide you with a bit of financial security. If you are married or plan on getting married, this can pose a unique situation if you were to get a divorce. Because many married couples have shared finances, one of the biggest parts of divorce is determining how to divide assets and debts. In Illinois, this process is done in an equitable manner, which does not necessarily mean that both spouses will come out of the divorce with half of the marital estate. A variety of factors are weighed to determine what is equitable, including each spouse’s income and earning potential, the duration of the marriage, and each spouse’s non-marital property in relation to the marital property. So, what does all of this mean for a spouse who has received an inheritance?

Understanding Marital vs. Non-Marital Property

Before your property can be divided, you must determine which of your property is non-marital and which of it is considered marital property. In general, any assets or debts that you have acquired during the time that you were married is considered to be part of the marital estate. This means that this property is subject to division during the divorce process. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, and inheritances are one of them. As per Illinois law, property that one spouses acquired by gift, legacy or descent is exempt from being considered marital property.

Keeping Your Inheritance Separate

Even though an inheritance is technically non-marital property, there are ways in which it can have both marital and non-marital characteristics. If this happens, then your inheritance could be considered part of the marital estate and subject to division between you and your spouse. For example, if you received a cash inheritance, and you deposited that money into an account that you share with your spouse for household expenses, it could be considered part of the marital estate.

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Naperville child support lawyersParents who have divorced or separated will sometimes disagree on how much each side should have to pay towards child support. If the parents were never married, it can be an ordeal for the mother to prove paternity in order to require the father to pay child support. Even after proving paternity, the father may be unhappy about having to pay. Whatever the reason may be, not paying the required child support amount is harmful to the children because it takes away money that is meant for living expenses. As the parent who is supposed to receive child support, you need to make sure that your child support order is being enforced.

Start with Communication

You should try to resolve the issue with your co-parent out of court before filing a complaint about a violation of your child support order. Find out why they missed their payment and when they plan to make it up. If they could not afford the payment that month, you can try to work with them but remind them that they are still required to pay the amount stated in the child support order unless the order is modified. If they do not respond or are being uncooperative, you may have no choice but to seek legal enforcement.

Enforcing Child Support

If you receive your payments through Illinois’ Division of Child Support Services (DCSS), the DCSS has the means to legally force your co-parent to pay child support. If you do not use the DCSS, you can file a motion in court claiming that your co-parent is in violation of your child support order. The court has several ways of retrieving money from your co-parent, including:

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DuPage County divorce attorney asset division

Financial struggles are cited as one of the most common causes of divorce. Heavy debt and being unable to pay the bills is stressful, which can damage the couple’s relationship. Monetary troubles can also highlight the spouses’ conflicting spending and saving habits. Bankruptcy is one way that a couple may try to resolve their debts and get a clean start, but it may not be enough to save a marriage that has crumbled under the stress. If you are considering both divorce and bankruptcy, you should understand how the two could affect each other. 

Should Divorce or Bankruptcy Come First?

It would be chaotic to file for divorce and bankruptcy at the same time. Not only would you be juggling two major court cases, but most of your marital assets would be tied up in the bankruptcy. Which you file for first may depend on these factors:

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DuPage County parenting plan attorneysThis is the start of a new school year that is unlike any that students and parents have experienced before. With COVID-19 looming as a continuing threat, some schools are forgoing in-person classes or using a hybrid of remote and in-person learning. For students who are attending in person, parents must monitor their children’s health and news of possible outbreaks at the school. The ongoing health crisis makes it more important than ever that divorced or separated parents work together to make sure they are protecting their children, which may require reviewing and modifying their parenting plan.

How Does Remote Learning Affect Parenting Time?

Parents do not normally have to worry about parenting time when a child is at school, but remote learning means that parents must determine who will be with the child during their “school day” if the child is too young to be left on their own. You and your co-parent need to consider several factors:

  • Is one of you already going to be at home during the day?
  • Are you available to help your child if needed?
  • Can your child create a constructive learning space at your home?

It may turn out that the parent who is most available is not the one who normally has parenting time on school days. If the best situation for your child’s remote learning does not match your parenting plan, you will need to modify the plan.

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Naperville divorce lawyersMost divorces require at least one of the spouses to find a new place to live. If you know you will not keep the marital home as part of the division of property, your housing search will be one of your top priorities. How do you begin such a search? How will your divorce affect your search? How do you know what is the right home for you? Here are three important tips for finding a new place to live during and after your divorce:

  1. Choose Something You Can Afford: Your housing expenses will be a key component of your post-divorce budget. Whether you are paying rent or a mortgage, your new home must fit within that budget. Determine what you can afford to pay each month, given your income and expenses. Keep in mind that you may have continued expenses related to your divorce, such as child support and spousal maintenance. On the other hand, receiving spousal maintenance may help you afford a better living situation.
  2. Consider Where You Want to Live: Many divorcees have ties to their current area, whether it is their work and social life or their children. You may need to limit your housing search to somewhere that is reasonably close to your children’s primary home if you want to be a regular and active part of their lives. However, divorce is also a chance to start over somewhere new. You may be free to pursue a new job or move to a place where you have wanted to live but could not while you were married. Some divorcees want to move closer to their families if they feel no connection to where they have been living.
  3. Make Sure You Are Compensated in Your Divorce: Illinois divorce law practices equitable division of property, meaning spouses are required to divide their marital properties in a way that is fair but not always exactly even. Your marital home may be the most valuable asset in your divorce agreement. If your spouse is keeping the house, it is reasonable for you to request other valuable assets in return. This could even mean protecting marital properties that you otherwise would have to share, such as your retirement benefits or business interests.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

The assets you receive in your divorce agreement will help determine where you can afford to live following your divorce. By working with a Naperville, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., you can negotiate an agreement that gives you the financial resources you need to start your new life. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

 

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DuPage County divorce lawyersWhen spouses age 50 and older get divorced after decades of marriage, this is commonly known as gray divorce. People going through a gray divorce may have different concerns and priorities than younger divorcees have. One such area is spousal maintenance, in which someone who relied on their spouse’s income during the marriage will continue to receive financial support. Spousal maintenance is not mandatory but is often part of a gray divorce. The maintenance recipient may also be more dependent upon the monthly payments than younger divorcees. 

There are three main reasons why spousal maintenance in a gray divorce is different:

Length of the Marriage

Assuming that it was not a recent marriage, couples in a gray divorce have likely been married for decades. The number of years that you were married is how Illinois calculates how long the maintenance payments should last following the divorce. When spouses have been married for 20 years or more, courts will often award “permanent maintenance.” Maintenance without an end-date is a major factor in the long-term cost of the payments.

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DuPage County Divorce AttorneysWith the way that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted society, it is understandable for you to wonder whether the courts are available to hear cases on divorce and other areas of family law. The good news is that courthouses in Illinois are open and operating—but with new rules that prioritize the safety of everyone attending. Courts are also taking advantage of video conferencing to limit the number of in-person meetings while still moving forward with cases. The 18th Judicial Circuit Court of DuPage County began hearing all cases again on June 8 with new guidelines that it will use for the foreseeable future.

Will I Have to Attend Court?

Most cases in DuPage County’s domestic relations court are being heard remotely rather than in person. The exceptions are for hearings involving orders of protection, extended trials, and cases that the court deems to be exigent. The court will judge whether a domestic relations case is urgent based on factors such as:

  • How long the case has been pending and the reason for the delay
  • Whether the case involves a dispute about parenting time
  • Whether there is an immediate risk of danger to minors
  • Whether there is an immediate risk of irreparable harm to the marital estate
  • Whether the case involves misconduct by one of the parties

What If I Am Required to Attend in Person?

The DuPage County Courthouse has strict requirements for those who enter to attend a hearing:

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Can I Become My Sibling’s Legal Guardian in Illinois?Unfortunately, not all children have two parents who love and properly care for them. Some children must endure the tragedy of losing one or both parents at a young age, while others have their parents stripped from them as decided by the court system. In most cases, these difficult decisions being made by the court are in the best interests of the child, even if the child is too young to see it that way. If family members are unable to care for the adolescent, they will be entered into the foster care system to be taken care of by volunteer foster families. However, for those who have siblings age 18 or older, they may have an alternative option: legal guardianship.

What Is Legal Guardianship?

Many children who are on the brink of joining the foster care system have spent much of their lives caring for themselves or have been lucky enough to have an older sibling who has taken on a parental role in their lives. However, without legal guardianship rights, the child will not be able to remain in their care. Illinois law allows all adolescents to have at least one legal guardian, and in the absence of their parents, a close family member may take on this role. Children over the age of 14 can grant consent to guardianship requests, but those under this age must rely on the court’s decision. In Illinois, anyone who is age 18 or older, is of “sound mind,” has not been convicted of a serious crime, and is deemed acceptable by the court can apply to be the person’s guardian. The qualifications may seem somewhat minor, but the court’s impression of the guardianship applicant can make or break your case.

What Does the Court Look For?

As is the case with all Illinois legal proceedings involving children, the court’s main purpose is to make a decision in the best interests of the child. There are a few considerations that the court will keep in mind when hearing a guardianship case:

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What Makes a High Asset Divorce More Complicated?Every divorce has a complex array of marital properties that must be divided between the spouses, but high asset divorces take that complexity to a different level. People going through high asset divorces often need to work with multiple financial professionals, such as appraisers and forensic accountants. These professionals are worth the expense because a mistake in a high asset divorce could cost you a significant amount of money. Here are four reasons why a high asset divorce can be more complicated than an average divorce:

  1. It Can Be Difficult to Track Down All of Your Assets: A high asset divorce often has a variety of properties, such as real estate, businesses, investments, and collectibles. The properties may be spread out into accounts and locations in different states or countries. You need to be thorough in searching for marital properties so they are all accounted for in the divorce. It is possible that your spouse may be hiding assets in order to protect them.
  2. Asset Valuations May Require Multiple Appraisers: Besides identifying your marital assets, it is also important to determine the value of the assets. You may need an appraiser with a specialized area of knowledge for some properties in a high asset divorce. For instance, a fine art appraiser will give you the most accurate valuation of an art collection. Other properties, such as a business, may require extensive research to determine their true values.
  3. Spousal Maintenance May Be More Crucial: If one spouse makes a majority of the income in a high asset marriage, the other spouse will be more reliant on receiving spousal maintenance after a divorce. The recipient spouse can reasonably expect to maintain a similar living standard following the divorce, which may not be possible on their own. The amount of maintenance that the recipient needs may be more than what the payor wants, which can make negotiations difficult.
  4. Both Sides Are More Likely to Contest the Divorce Agreement: There can be millions of dollars at stake in a high asset divorce, which neither party wants to give up. Your spouse may fight you on the value of the assets and how they should be divided. If you cannot come to an agreement on your own, you may need to take your dispute to court, where a judge will decide how the divorce agreement should be constructed.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Lawyer

If you are about to go through a high asset divorce, you need a lawyer who is experienced with finding hidden assets and conducting complex property valuations. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., will make sure you receive your fair share of the property in your divorce. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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How to Encourage Your Fiance to Enter Into a Prenuptial AgreementThere are situations where creating a prenuptial agreement is both prudent and necessary. For instance, you may have significant premarital assets that could potentially become entangled with your marital assets. A prenuptial agreement would clearly identify the properties that belong to you in the event of a divorce. However, asking your fiance for a prenup can be uncomfortable. If you ask in the wrong way, you risk damaging your relationship and possibly endangering your marriage. To avoid a negative reaction, you should discuss getting a prenuptial agreement in a way that allows your fiance to feel comfortable and in control of the process.

Start the Conversation Early

You can broach the subject of getting a prenuptial agreement before you get engaged, letting your partner know that it is something you are considering. That way, your fiance should not be caught off guard when you talk about it after your engagement. Ideally, you want to negotiate and complete the agreement months before your wedding. There are several reasons why a last-minute prenup is a terrible idea:

  • Your fiance may feel like you are pressuring them if you ask for a prenuptial agreement only a few weeks before the wedding.
  • A divorce court may later find your agreement to be invalid if your spouse claims they signed it under duress.
  • Your fiance needs time to consider your request and find their own legal representation.
  • The weeks leading up to a wedding are already hectic and stressful without adding the need to negotiate a prenuptial agreement.

Make It a Collaborative Effort

Though you may have a greater interest in creating a prenuptial agreement, your fiance needs to feel like an equal partner in the process. This starts with being honest about why you want a prenup and explaining how the agreement could benefit you both. Encourage your fiance to hire their own family law attorney to make sure they have someone who is representing them throughout the process. Conduct the negotiations in a way that gives your fiance an equal voice in deciding on terms of the agreement. Creating a prenuptial agreement together can be practice for how you will collaborate when you are married.

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What Does Child Support Pay for in Illinois?Child support payments are required whenever two parents are no longer together, whether it is through divorce or separation. Unlike parental responsibilities, a parent cannot relinquish their financial obligation towards their child while the child is still a minor – and sometimes into adulthood if a parent is ordered to help pay for college. Typically, the parent with a greater share of parenting time will receive child support payments from the other parent because the court assumes that they will be the person in charge of child-related expenses. What can and should child support payments be used for?

How Child Support Should Be Spent

The total child support amount that you and your co-parent are responsible for is how much Illinois estimates it should cost to care for your children, based on the number of children you have and the standard of living you can afford on your incomes. The total is meant to cover basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. You can add other expenses to your total in order to cover healthcare, childcare, and school and extracurricular expenses. It is not a requirement that all of a child support payment be spent directly on the children because there are some expenses that are indirectly tied to the children. For instance, paying rent or a mortgage is related to the children because having children determined the size of the home you are living in.

Are There Any Restrictions on How Someone Uses Child Support?

It would go against the intention of Illinois’ child support law if a parent spent child support money on things that are unrelated to the children, such as:

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How to Lock Up Your Assets with a Financial Restraining OrderYou should be on guard against your spouse dissipating your marital assets during your divorce. Some people will transfer assets into hidden accounts or make reckless or selfish expenditures before their spouse gets a chance to divide the assets in the divorce. At one time, Illinois law would automatically freeze a couple’s marital assets at the start of the divorce, but the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it was overly broad and lacking due process. Instead, you can protect your marital assets by requesting a temporary financial restraining order.

What Does the Order Do?

A temporary financial restraining order prevents both you and your spouse from spending, transferring, disposing of, or concealing your assets without permission from the court during your divorce. There is an exception for the assets that you use to pay for basic living expenses, such as food, housing, and utilities. Major purchases of non-essential items or amenities would require permission from the court. A temporary order will usually last for 10 days and can be extended after a full court hearing.

How Can You Receive an Order?

The court will issue a financial restraining order if you can prove all of the following:

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What Is a Social Distancing Contract for Divorced Parents?The COVID-19 pandemic has forced divorced parents in the U.S. to adjust their parenting plans. Social distancing guidelines have changed what is necessary to protect children from harm, which may include limiting their travel between homes and making sure that they are not exposed to the virus. Some parents have gone as far as to create “social distancing contracts” that stipulate what they should be doing to protect their children from the coronavirus. Creating such a contract may seem prudent given the state of the world, but divorce professionals warn that some parents are trying to use the contracts to control their co-parents.

Potential for Manipulation

Co-parenting can be difficult if your co-parent has a history of manipulative behavior, and the public health crisis gives them a new way to try to control you. Your co-parent may try to pressure you into signing a social distancing contract that they wrote, claiming that it is in your children’s best interest. Provisions you see in the contract may include prohibiting you from:

  • Allowing any guests into your home, including family members
  • Meeting new people outside of your home
  • Attending non-essential gatherings

Limiting these activities may be necessary to protect your children during a pandemic, but a contract lets your co-parent decide who you can see and what you can do with no room for your own judgment.

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