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When you divorce, you have to split up parental responsibilities and your shared property with your ex. There is one aspect of your divorce where those two issues overlap, and that is when you have a pet or companion animal in your family.

For years, Illinois, along with the rest of the country, simply treated animals like property. No matter how much you cared for your pet, the judge would only consider their financial value in a divorce and would give them to one spouse or the other.

However, now, Illinois is one of a very few states in the country where you can potentially share custody of your pet with your ex-spouse after a divorce.

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You have to meet certain requirements to file for divorce in Illinois. One of them is that you have to live separately from your spouse for at least six months. The courts can waive that requirement in some situations, such as when both spouses agree.

Many people find the requirement to live separately before they file for divorce confusing. They think that they have to file for a legal separation before they can file for a divorce. Is that truly the case for divorcing couples in Illinois?

A legal separation is not the same thing as living separately

Living separately simply means that you no longer live as husband and wife. Separating means establishing separate households after living jointly, often by one spouse moving out of the marital home into their own place. You may separate by merely keeping separate rooms in the same house if you cannot afford separate domiciles.

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A sometimes devastating byproduct of divorce involves losing track of your children's needs and their rights as individuals. Just because they are young and perhaps not ready to make their own decisions, that does not mean their rights are unimportant.

One of the best things you can do for your kids during and after a divorce in Chicago is to protect their rights. Doing so empowers your children and lets them know they matter to you.

Basic rights every child of divorce should have

A divorce is usually a challenging event for children. As a parent, you want to support them through the transition and help them cope with your breakup. Allowing them to have and exercise the following rights can help you both.

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The relationship between the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the LGBTQ community has a troubling past, including allegations of sexual misconduct by an officer toward a transgender woman. However, the city was also the setting for numerous polarizing moments in the history of LGBTQ rights. For example, Chicago's Henry Gerber formed the Society for Human Rights, the nation's first gay rights organization, in 1924.

The CPD wants to mend its relations with the LGBTQ community. The department recently introduced a team of liaisons to help improve trust between the two groups. One officer who is a liaison explained her new role as a bridge between the police department and the LGBTQ community.

What are the liaisons' responsibilities?

According to CPD Superintendent David Brown, the police want better and more authentic relationships with the LGBTQ population. There are six liaisons within the department — one for each area and one for the entire city. A few of the roles these liaisons will fill include:

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Co-parenting after divorce can be a challenge. That said, when parents continue to be active participants in their child's life and are respectful of each other, the arrangement can benefit everyone. To make the situation easier, parents can set some healthy boundaries.

If you are unsure how to do this or where to start when it comes to co-parenting boundaries, you are not alone. Many parents struggle with this transition. However, focusing on a few areas can help you get started.

Setting rules for custody exchanges

Exchanging custody can be the most common situation where parents will want to set boundaries. Some ways to do this include:

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