Children, Counseling, and Divorce in Illinois
Children are known to suffer negative emotional and social effects following divorce, and parents must be willing to address these issues both during and after a divorce case concludes to prevent long-term damage. To support the wellbeing of children struggling with the adjustments divorce demands, various counseling programs are specifically targeted to this group and often need tailored approaches to avoid the academic, behavioral and financial repercussions.
After parents seek to intervene (and in some cases before), Courts also have the authority to order counseling as a measure to potentially save a marriage and help families with child-related issues deal with this difficult transition.
Consider the following information with regard to when a Court may order participation in counseling, as well as an overview of the parenting class all divorcing couples must attend, which is intended to facilitate more effective communication and parenting post-divorce.
Issues that Could Prompt Counseling
Entering the divorce process leads most spouses to fully dismiss the possibility of further attempts at reconciliation, but Illinois Judges do have discretion to order a couple to attempt reconciling, which may be at the behest of one spouse.
Termed conciliation, each party must attend a conference and counseling to see if the marriage can be saved. While rarely used, conciliation is one option Courts can employ if the marriage appears t0 have a legitimate chance at being saved.
More common, though, is a Court ordering children or families into counseling if one of the following circumstances is present:
- Both parents consent;
- The child’s health is endangered or emotional development is threatened;
- A parent abused his or her parenting time; or
- A parent violated a provision in the parenting plan related to conduct affecting the child or in the child’s presence.
Counseling is usually ordered after the divorce is finalized; however, counseling can be required while the proceedings are ongoing, usually upon consent of both parents. Both conciliation and counseling are private, and any information shared cannot be used as part of a Court proceeding.
Purposes and Structure of the Parenting Class
In addition to counseling, one common feature States use to improve parenting post-divorce is requiring each parent to attend a Court-approved parenting class. These classes may occur while a divorce case is pending, after dissolution is granted, and between unmarried parents with child-related issues. Additionally, classes are offered both in-person and online, but in-person attendance is mandatory for spouses ordered to mediation. Furthermore, each parent is typically expected to pay his or her own fee for the class.
The class is intended to teach parents how to support children during the transition of divorce, and how to effectively co-parent in order to reduce conflict and better communicate. Note that a Court order is not necessary to take these courses. Once ordered, however, parents need to comply to prevent unnecessary delays in their case and the possibility of repercussions from the Judge.
Work with an Illinois Divorce Attorney
Courts have several options to promote less litigious resolutions to conflicts, and an experienced divorce attorney can help you to understand these options, as well as when a Court is likely to use them.
Talented Barrington family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson understands the how overwhelming the divorce process can be, and will be there to guide you through to the best possible outcome. Contact the law firm for a free initial consultation.