“Chin up! Everything will be OK.”
“You just need to be more positive!”
“Don’t worry so much!”
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and depressed about a major life change, the last thing you want to hear are cliches promoting positivity. It may seem impossible and even insulting to have friends and family encourage you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, as the old saying goes.
Just because you’re feeling negative about the prospects for your life after divorce, custody changes or other significant transitions, that doesn’t automatically make you a pessimist. It’s normal to struggle with self esteem issues and defeatist thoughts.
Even people who would describe themselves as optimists fight these negative feelings during tough times. It’s often these people who are most adeptly able to pull themselves out of a pessimistic place and gather the gumption to move forward with a growing sense of positivity.
Here’s the secret — in order to remain optimistic, people work on their optimism consistently. Certainly, there must be a handful of lucky people out there whose optimism never wanes. For most of us, though, optimism is a process to be built upon, rather than a ever-present characteristic.
Simple optimism tip #1: Leave the door open.
Whether you feel like you’ll never find love again, be alone forever or never rebuild a relationship, this absolutist thinking is the enemy of your optimism. If you continuously set up barriers around your future, it can be nearly impossible to be optimistic.
As Dr. Alex Lickerman explains at PsychologyToday.com, we perpetuate this cycle of pessimistic thoughts when we assign negative, self-blaming explanations to the events that happen in our lives. Lickerman describes how we can replace absolutist thinking with broader narratives that alleviate us of at least some of the responsibility for the event.
For example, you may find yourself thinking, “It’s my fault that our marriage fell apart.” When this happens, try to think of alternative causes for the event. “I may have contributed to the breakdown of our marriage, but there were also many problems and stressors that caused its eventual end.”
The first thought puts the onus and blame squarely on you, leading to the notion that you’re all bad or all wrong and you’ll never do things right — i.e. maintain a relationship, be a good parent — again. The second line of thought opens a door of opportunity in your mind to understand that while you may have made mistakes, you can work to make things better in a new situation.
Simple optimism tip #2:
Surround yourself with optimism.Your mom was right all along: You are who your friends are. It’s only natural to be influenced by those with whom we choose to associate, and we’re especially impressionable when we’re already feeling down. Misery loves company, right?
If you find your friends or family members feed into your pessimistic outlook, reinforcing your negative thought, try to alter that behavior. Most people close to you won’t even realize they’re having a negative effect. They might even assume their words are what you need, that agreeing with your negative thoughts is a way to be “on your side.”
Ask them not to be your cheerleader, but instead to help you check your pessimism, find alternative explanations for events that don’t fall on you, and help you recognize the potential of good things to come.
Of course, if someone in your life is being downright pessimistic and dragging you down, it might be time to take a break from being in their company until you’re on the upswing.
Bob Miglani, an author who writes about “getting unstuck” in life, suggests finding optimism heroes in your life. These are people who you know have faced adversity and rebuilt their lives in a new way. Ask them for advice and allow them to be an inspiration in your darkest moments.
Simple optimism tip #3:
Fiercely fight fear of the futureMake this your mantra! Fears of what your future will look like after your life transition can hold you back from ever getting anywhere. Fear is a major driver of negative thought — if something is too difficult or scary, it’s probably not worth doing. You probably can’t do it anyway, right? It’s astounding how quickly fear transforms into a pessimistic attitude.
Well known speaker and alternative medicine practitioner Deepak Chopra says that when we suffer a loss, we experience an internal vacuum. There’s an empty space that was once filled with hope and contentment. Now that those things have evaporated, it’s normal to fill that space with the the opposite emotions of despair and unease.
As we assign blame to ourselves for the ills of the past, simultaneously in our minds we set ourselves up for future failure. Remind yourself of the simple fact that you will move on in some way, somehow. No, it won’t be the life you once envisioned, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write a new reality for yourself filled with possibilities.
Resist the urge to compare what your new future might look like compared to what you once hoped it would be. You influence how you move forward and there is a whole new life out there waiting for you. Take your time, practice positivity and you’ll find it.
With the changes to Illinois law commencing on January 1, 2016, Illinois truly became a no-fault state when it comes to divorcing your spouse. While “irreconcilable differences” has always been one of the options for filing a petition to pursue a divorce from your spouse, Public Act 99-90 eliminated any fault-based grounds for dissolving a marriage. Previously, one of the grounds for divorce in Illinois was if one party had a substance abuse problem for at least two years. Notwithstanding that substance abuse is no longer an option for the dissolution of marriage, substance abuse often plays a major role in divorces in the United States.
Many studies have shown that marriages with one or more partners who have a serious alcohol problem are more likely to end in divorce. One such study published in May 2014 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs*, researchers from the University of Michigan compiled data from a nationwide endeavor called the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). The study involved 17,192 participants and included the comparison of divorce rates for people with a diagnosed alcohol use disorder to the divorce rates for people not affected by alcoholism. As part of the study, researchers also investigated how underlying factors can increase or decrease the odds of going through a divorce. The research concluded that divorce rates for couples with past or present alcohol abuse was 48.3%, by comparison divorce rates for couples without substance abuse issues was 30%.
Substance abuse issues are a known cause of strain in relationships. Alcohol abuse often leads to serious issues such as financial problems, difficulty for the alcoholic spouse to maintain employment, constant arguments, domestic violence, or other relationship problems which were not present before the substance abuse issues. Frequently, the partners of the addicts feel there has been a drastic change in a loved one and feel helpless to help them through this addiction. This despair may be a trigger for seeking legal guidance and obtaining a separation or divorce. Often, the sober partner explores divorce as a last option after attempts at rehabilitation and counseling have been made and continue to fail.
With the complexity of issues related to substance abuse and divorce, it is important to seek legal advice to navigate the many obstacles involved in this process. Every divorce is unique and with the potential obstacles that may be encountered due to the substance abuse, it is important to have an attorney in your corner who is familiar with all aspects of Illinois law and who can tailor your position to directly address the issues of your situations. Ask questions when you first meet with your attorney, and as new issues come up, discuss the standards and the changes so that you are well-informed and not confused when the court makes important decisions concerning your divorce.
With our office in Orland Park, the Sterk Family Law Group serves clients in Cook county, Will county, and DuPage county. Our professional family law group is ready to serve you today. Schedule your free, no obligation consultation to see how our legal team and experienced family law attorneys can assist you with your family law needs. Call us at 815-600-8950 or visit sterkfamilylaw.com.
This article does not constitute individual legal advice and is not to be construed as such. This article contains general information and constitutes legal advertising.
*Cranford, J. A. (2014). DSM-IV Alcohol Dependence and Marital Dissolution: Evidence From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 75(3), 520–529.
The percentage of divorcing couples has been on the decline, however, the occurrence of “gray divorces” or divorcing couples over 50 years old, has been on the incline. There are a variety of considerations as to why this age bracket decides to make late-in-life changes. Much like many other traits (work ethic, beliefs, etc.) the characteristics of Baby Boomer marriages were often formed from a different blueprint than the younger generations. A “gray divorce” may also be correlated with the onset of the “empty nest”, when adult children have all left the family home. In a perfect world, every marriage would be a fairy tale-esque love story, but the reality for boomers is that many marriages began due to the onset of wars and other marriages may have begun to try to maintain traditions. Younger generations have begun to have a more individualistic type of approach to marriage which are now being mirrored by preceding generations.
Divorce after 50 for many brings unique issues. One unique factor not often spoken about is the increased risk for a 50 plus divorcee to be a victim of cyber related scam before, during or after divorce. While some of the 50 plus crowd is technology savvy, many are not, which is leaving them more vulnerable to fall victim to scams. Your divorce decree and some of the filings related thereto are public records that can easily be found through simple internet searches on court websites. It is very important to work with your attorney to limit the details of your personal financial affairs in the court record.
Most seniors don’t know when they’re being deceived, and if there is no one watching out for them, it can result in huge losses. Someone may call and impersonate a family member, telling the senior that they are in trouble and need some money. The scammers that target seniors do their research; they know who is divorcing, living alone, and they take advantage. There are millions of cases of financial scams happening to seniors every year. As a result of these scams, the financial losses can be enormous, yet only a small percentage of cases are being reported. While a young adult’s financial mistakes can be corrected with a couple of decades of prudent money management, there is a higher demand for people over 50 to be more cautious with their finances and savings. Seniors often feel guilt or shame when they have been taken advantage of and they don’t know where to turn.
Scams can and do happen in various forms and it is important to trust your intuition. A fraudulent call or email that appears to come from a trusted company asks for account information. If they are really calling from your bank, why do they need you to tell them your banking information? The home improvement salesman, who asks for money up front but does not complete the job, takes the senior for a ride. Repair fraud is very common, with scammers showing up at doors claiming a home is in desperate need of repair and their company can do this as long as money is provided prior to starting. The fake charity callers who use a natural disaster to make phone calls to cheat the elderly. The fake grandchild who calls saying they have been in an accident and they need money sent via wire, right away.
Stay informed to prevent fraud, scams, and financial problems. Proceed with caution. Do some research. Learn how to stay safe on the internet. Do not be fooled by a person who knows details about your life, because this is just a way of getting more information and money out of you. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do not give information away or sign up for a particular service without doing more investigation. Check your credit regularly and report any scams. Keep your passwords private and limit the number of people who have financial data about you.
Education and knowledge are gifts that can be enjoyed by people of all ages so a grey divorce could also be seen as a silver lining. STOP, INVESTIGATE AND CALL OUT FOR HELP TO MAKE SURE YOU DON’T GET TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF BY A SCAMMER. Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
This article does not constitute individual legal advice and is to not to be construed as such. This article contains general information and constitutes legal advertising.
The New Illinois Pet Custody Law
December 28th, 2017 by Kelly Garver
The New Illinois Pet Custody LawOn January 1, 2018, family law in Illinois includes changes regarding the “custody” of pets or as it is being referred to, “the pet custody law.” When a couple divorces, property is divided between them, including furniture, money, houses, and all manner of other property – until now, pets were just considered just property too. The courts in Illinois did not have the power to allocate responsibility for a companion animal, the way they allocate responsibility for children. Starting in the new year, the court shall allocate either sole ownership or joint ownership of a pet, and with ownership comes responsibility for that pet, now court-ordered.
The old law, 750 ILCS 5/503, which is the law that governs the disposition of marital property, is amended with a new paragraph, 750 ILCS 5/503(n). The Illinois legislature placed the new pet custody law in Section 5 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, in subsection 503, the statute governing the disposition of property in a divorce.
Section 5/503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act is amended as follows:
The new law does not define what a companion animal is, although it does exclude service animals. It will be interesting to see how the courts apply this new law, for example, how will the court determine possession of a valuable show dog? Or a valuable race horse? If you are facing divorce in the new year, it is important that you obtain experienced and knowledgeable family law counsel.
Considering the well-being of the petBeginning in 2018, the court is required to consider the pet’s well-being when deciding which party is allocated possession of the pet, and all of the responsibility that comes with possession of a pet. This new law will make sense to pet owners who understand that their pet contributes to their physical and mental health. The new pet custody law could also add a new level of conflict to the proceedings. Talk to your attorney about any companion animals in the marriage, and discuss the ultimate possession of, and responsibility for, that animal. In the event both parties want to be awarded the same pet, be sure to provide documents such as adoption papers, purchase receipts, veterinary bills, and registration papers to your counsel.
In every divorce, there are critical documents and divorce discovery questions which must be prepared by both parties. One of these documents, the financial disclosure, is both necessary and complicated. Choose a divorce law firm that will assist you in producing a complete and compelling document upon which basis the court may make the correct decisions.
Compared with the average cost of child support in Illinois, a pet’s support may seem trivial, but beginning on January 1, 2018, your divorce may feature an additional contest over the possession of your pet.
Want to Learn More?If you think your pet may be the subject of a dispute, please contact Gwendolyn J. Sterk and The Family Law Group for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the details of the Illinois pet custody law . You can contact our office at 815-600-8950 or by sending us a message here.
Empower Yourself with Options.
THE EPIDEMIC OF BULLYING
Bullying is a multi-layered cross-cultural plague. Our children are like little sponges, but with limited ability to filter and differentiate the information they see and hear for themselves and to determine what they should keep or throw out. Everything they observe has an impact and is demonstrating to them how to relate to others in the world and more importantly, how to relate to themselves. And as we consider what they are observing, an ugly truth becomes clear; this epidemic is the continuation of our society’s unyielding intolerance and cruelty toward others and anyone who have any differences. Over a period of decades, teamed with technological advances that have desensitized people from each other, history continues on the same track of ostracizing those different from us through torment and ridicule.
Today’s world is different from the one that most of us grew up in. Getting chased home from school, after you’d taken a variety of methods to dodge a beating, at least helped get you to your front door and into the safety of your home. The school day may have been hell, but you had a reprieve. With the prevalence of the Internet and social media in our daily lives, it has left children the prey to a 24-hour cycle of abuse that is non-stop. Bullying is not just what you see anymore, it is the messages and threats that surrounds our children continually.
The National Education Association estimates that every day 160,000 kids miss school because of fear they will be attacked or bullied by other students. According to the National School Safety Center, there are over two million bullies in our schools who bully nearly three million students every year. Seventy one percent of students in K-12 report incidents of bullying at their school. It is imperative we begin to educate our children early on how to regain their power and not become the victim. Bringing about change requires a shift in societal norms and sticking to these expectations. This also requires real concrete consequences for bullying behavior. And it is imperative to remember that major change can be brought about by building on small grass roots changes. Organizations such as dosomething.org, stopbullying.gov, and The Bully Project are working vigorously to advocate to lawmakers and inform parents regarding the risks of bullying and the need for change
Currently, there are no federal laws that are targeted at bullying behaviors. Federally funded schools are only required to intervene in bullying situations when the offence overlaps with harassment due to a person’s race, color, sex, disability, age or religion. That leaves the responsibility in the hands of each individual state. Currently, 41 states have laws and policies governing bullying behaviors, while 10 states only have bullying laws. Illinois only has laws governing bullying, and this included five laws that include cyber bullying.
Bullying is a worldwide issue that affects everyone at some point in their lives and in some way. It may be that you have been bullies, known someone who is bullied, or maybe you have been a bully, everyone has been affected by bullying in some way. Millions of children are being affected by bullying behavior and statistics do not reflect that things are getting better.
If you are aware of anyone experiencing bullying issues, please contact The Sterk Family Law Group for a free consultation to discuss the details of your specific case. You may be able to secure a No Contact order under certain circumstances. You can contact our office at 815-600-8950 or visit us on the web at www.sterkfamilylaw.com and Empower Yourself with Options.