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Winfield child support attorneyThe divorce process can be emotionally and financially draining. When you and your ex cared for your children together under one roof, it was easier to work together to take care of your family’s financial needs. However, things change significantly after divorce, and both parents may struggle to make ends meet. 

If your ex has not been paying child support, this can cause a great deal of difficulty for you. For example, if one of your children needs glasses or braces that you cannot afford on your own, a lack of child support payments can put you in a tough situation. It may be hard to understand why your ex might be avoiding payments, but here are some common reasons that the funds your child needs are not coming your way:

  • Changes in Finances - Your ex may not be paying child support because they do not have the money to give. The amount of child support payments specified in a divorce decree is based on parents’ finances at the time of the divorce. Issues such as a job loss or large medical expenses can affect how much they are able to pay. This may be embarrassing for your ex. If you think this may be the reason why you are not receiving child support, you may wish to request a modification. Setting a lower payment that your ex can afford is better for everyone than not receiving any payments at all. 
  • Disagreements About Spending - Everyone values things differently. When it comes to expenses, your ex may disagree with the amount of money you are spending in different categories. For example, if your child’s school bag breaks, may choose to invest in a strong backpack that costs twice as much as the last one. Your spouse may complain about the extra spending and refuse to share in these expenses. 
  • Hurt Feelings - It is possible your ex is upset with the arrangements for the allocation of parental responsibility. He or she may feel that decisions were made unfairly, and having to make monthly child support payments may only agitate these feelings. As a result, he or she may refuse to make child support payments out of spite. 

Regardless of feelings or disagreements, parents are legally required to pay court-ordered child support. A person who fails to pay child support may be held in contempt of court, fined, or imprisoned. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce attorney parents childrenTelling your spouse that you want a divorce is one thing, but telling your children that mom and dad are separating is another. While parents may worry that their divorce will negatively affect their children, it can ultimately be the best thing for everyone involved. Rather than experiencing regular conflict and tension between parents, children can benefit by growing up in a less stressful environment. When breaking the news of divorce, parents will want to approach the conversation in a way that helps children understand and prepare for how their lives will change.

Talking to Younger Children

The approach to telling your child that you and your spouse are getting a divorce is going to differ depending on the age of your children. A younger child may have a harder time understanding what a divorce means, but they will have an easier time adjusting to the change. If dealing with children with a wide age gap, you may wish to discuss the divorce separately. 

There is no definitive guide for telling your child about the divorce. Every family is different, and every child will have a different level of emotional intelligence. Here are some tips to help you talk about getting a divorce with your school aged children:

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Wheaton divorce lawyer parenting planThis week, children will walk the sidewalks in costume to celebrate Halloween, but the scariest thing for your child might be the post-divorce arrangements for one of their favorite holidays.

If a parenting plan comes between your child and free candy, they will not be happy. Like any special occasion, disagreements may arise regarding how to celebrate. Sometimes what is on the parenting plan does not correspond with the needs of your child.

Here are some common issues that come up when discussing Halloween:

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Warrenville divorce lawyer college financial aidThe majority of freshmen start college in September, and this is when family law attorneys often experience an influx in inquiries about divorce. For couples in a low conflict relationship who are considering divorce, an empty nest may feel like the perfect time to finally go through with separating. However, you should be aware that your marital status and living arrangements can affect how much financial aid your child receives, and you will also want to consider how your divorce will affect them.

What About My Freshman?

Beginning college can be a difficult change for any student. It is the first time they are on their own, even if they may be only a couple hours away from home. Confronting your college freshman with divorce right away may do more harm than good. They might worry more about mom and dad’s relationship than making friends and doing well in a new school environment. While there is no perfect time to announce a divorce to your child, if at all possible, you may want to make sure they have adjusted to their new surroundings first.  

Before your child starts school, and every year after, they can apply for financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a series of online forms that will determine how much financial aid your child can receive. These grants or loans can help alleviate the financial stress of attending college for you and your child. 

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West Chicago divorce lawyer children parentsWe cannot control the timing of many events in our lives. However, when it comes to divorce, it is wise to do it at the right time for you and your family. It is important to plan for children’s needs when getting a divorce. While you might not be able to plan when your spouse asks for a divorce, if you work together and put your children’s best interests first, it is possible to make it official at the right time, depending on the circumstances.

High-Conflict vs. Low Conflict 

If there are constant fights with yelling or screaming, or violence in the home, it is probably best to complete your divorce sooner rather than later. Violence and spousal abuse will have a greater negative effect on your child than a divorce, regardless of their age. On the other hand, if you are in a low-conflict marriage but have irreconcilable differences, you may choose to wait to complete your divorce. 

However, this does not necessarily mean you should stay in a rocky marriage for the sake of your children. This often does more harm than good. In the end, it is healthier for children to have divorced parents than to live in a high-conflict household. Choosing to end your marriage can also be beneficial for your children as they form their own personal relationships down the line. Children in high-conflict households with parents who did not get a divorce are actually more likely to get divorced themselves as an adult. 

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Posted on in Mediation

Warrenville divorce mediation attorneyWhen getting a divorce, there are a couple ways to officially complete the process of dissolving a marriage: traditional litigation and mediation. The definition of litigation is to take legal action, and in this process, disputes are resolved in court, with both parties typically being represented by an attorney. Although mediation usually requires a licensed professional mediator, it is often an easier process than going to court. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of mediation can help you choose the best option for your divorce.

What Is Mediation?

A mediator is a third party who will aid divorcing spouses in conflict resolution. Their job is to be neutral advisor during the mediation process, helping to clarify misunderstandings and guiding the spouses toward making decisions. It is important to have a mediator during a divorce that understands the complexity of legal matters such as the allocation of parental responsibility (child custody), parenting time (visitation), and the division of assets.

Mediation Pros:

  • Cost - Generally, mediation is a less expensive alternative to litigation. Mediation is also often a faster process, which means you will likely be paying less for a mediator than you would for an attorney to represent you during litigation. Choosing mediation over litigation can save you up to 60% when it comes to your divorce.
  • Control - Your mediator is there to help both sides reach an agreement rather than to make decisions for you. During mediation, all decisions are up to you and your ex, and you can work together to reach a compromise on the outstanding issues in your divorce. In court, the final decisions will be made by a judge, and you will have little control over the outcome.
  • Confidentiality - Court cases are public, which means that records from the trial can be easily accessed. With mediation, there are no transcripts or records, which keeps your divorce private. 

Mediation Cons:

  • Environment - Unlike a day in court, a mediation session does not have formal rules. If one party does not speak up about their desired outcome for the divorce, there is not anyone to advocate for his or her best interests. During litigation, a lawyer will help prepare documents and evidence and speak on your behalf. 
  • Not for every situation - If a marriage is ending because of emotional or physical abuse, mediation will likely not be helpful, and it may be another opportunity for the abuser to inflict further damage. 

Get in Touch With a Winfield Family Law Attorney

While mediation can be beneficial, it requires spouses to work together and be willing to compromise. If spouses are unable reach an agreement through mediation, further legal action will be required to resolve any outstanding issues. Contact an experienced West Chicago divorce mediation attorney from the Law Offices of Nancy Kasko, LLC to find out if mediation is the right choice for your divorce. Set up a free consultation by calling our office at 630-836-6540.

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Posted on in Divorce

Winfield divorce attorney pet custodyWhen determining custody of children during divorce, there are rules that help determine a child’s future based on his or her well being. Divorcing couples will also need to determine how to divide their property and assets. However, what happens when the property shared between a couple is alive? For many years, Illinois law treated pets as property similar to a television or mattress, but the law recently changed, and additional considerations now apply to pets during divorce. 

What Has Changed?

On January 1, 2018, a new state law regarding the treatment of pets during a divorce was put into effect, and “custody” of pets is now handled in a similar manner to that of children. While pets are still considered property, the new law states that when making decisions about ownership of pets (referred to as companion animals in the law), a judge should consider the animal’s well-being. This law, however, does not apply to service animals. A service animal is defined as an animal that is specially trained to benefit a person with a disability, such as a guide dog for a blind person or a seizure response dog that specializes in aiding a person with a seizure disorder. 

When parental responsibility, or child custody, is determined by the court, the health and safety of the child is put first. A similar consideration now applies to family pets. If one party takes better care of the animal, or the other is in an unstable living environment, the pet can be placed with the spouse who will better provide for the animal’s well-being. The party who purchased the pet or regularly took care of the pet may also be taken into consideration.

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Posted on in Divorce

West Chicago divorce lawyerFor many people, divorce is an uncomfortable topic. In the 1980s, the divorce rate was as high as 40% in the United States. Although this rate has been on the decline over the past few decades, this is small comfort to those who are going through the difficult process of ending their marriage. There are many factors that may make you want to leave your spouse, and informing your partner about the desire to get a divorce is never an easy task.

Why Do People Get Divorced?

In 2016 there were 827,261 divorces or annulments in the United States. While infidelity is a common reason couples choose to end their marriage, many people are able to repair their relationship through marriage counseling. Here are some other common reasons for divorce:

  • Getting married too young - Research shows that the best age to get married is between 28 and 32. People who get married before the age of 25 are more likely to get a divorce. 
  • Money - Financial burdens can cause stress in any relationship, especially if they occur because of one partner's lack of responsibility. 
  • Growing apart - Falling out of love with one’s partner is another common reason for divorce. People change over time, and if spouses become too out of sync, it might be time to think about ending the relationship and moving on. 
  • Substance abuse - Drug and alcohol abuse does not just have physical effects, but it can also put a major strain on a relationship. If children are involved, divorce may be the best way to protect them from the effects of substance abuse. 

Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce

Whether the two of you have grown apart, or there is a bigger issue at hand, you have likely put a lot of thought into the difficult decision to get a divorce. It is important not to blindside your spouse about your choice or bring it up for the first time during a heated argument. While there is no perfect time to say “I want a divorce,” it is best to be calm, serious, and thoughtful about the topic when it is brought up. You may want to talk about why you are unhappy and why you believe divorce is the best path for you. Being respectful during the first stages of getting a divorce can go a long way when starting a new relationship as ex-partners. 

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Winfield divorce attorney parents teenagersAround one fourth of the teenagers whose parents are going through a divorce suffer through issues like depression or reckless behavior. Unlike younger children, who may become clingy during a divorce, teenagers will distance themselves and keep their emotions tight to appear mature and in control of the situation. Teenagers are old enough to understand the world, but they still require the care of a parent. During the turbulent adolescent years, divorce can be especially stressful for teenagers. 

Is My Child Stressed?

Teenagers have the language skills to discuss about how they feel, but they will rarely do so without prompting. There are short term effects from divorce that are to be expected in any child, such as sadness, guilt, and anger. However, parents should also be aware of the long-term issues that may arise. Some signs to look out for include:

  • Difficulty sleeping - Your teenager might have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep as they deal with the stress of your divorce. Since teenagers are still growing, they require more sleep than adults do--up to nine hours a day. If your teenager is not sleeping well, you may notice signs like clumsiness, irritability, and difficulty with concentration. 
  • Depression - The best thing you can do for a child with depression is to recognize the symptoms. If your child does not seem to be themselves for long periods of time, they may be depressed. A depressed teenager may withdraw from friends and family, appear hopeless, and express dark thoughts about death or harm to themselves. 
  • Bad grades - Has your A student become a C student? He or she may not be coping well with your divorce. It is challenging for children in school to adjust to lifestyle changes that require being studious in two locations. No matter what decisions are made about the allocation of parental responsibilities, it is important to maintain consistent rules about school between households. Help your child by encouraging your ex to be equally involved in his or her education.  
  • Reckless behavior - All teenagers are likely to disobey their parents to some degree, but rebelliousness can become a problem if they are putting themselves or others at risk. Behaviors to watch out for include substance abuse, careless operation of a vehicle, or unprotected sexual activities. If your child is being reckless, they may not know how to handle their emotions about the divorce, or they may be acting out for attention. 

Even though a teenager may distance themselves from you during your divorce, they still will mimic the actions and behaviors of their parents. Use this opportunity to teach your child about managing new situations and practicing self care. Be a person that your child can look up to and take an example from. This includes talking about your ex in a positive light, avoiding using your child for emotional leverage, and managing stress in a healthy way.

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Posted on in Family law

Winfield step-parent adoption attorneyAdoption, no matter how rewarding, is rarely an easy process. It is a lifetime commitment to a child that should not be taken lightly. Adopting a child of your spouse is often more straightforward than the adoption of a non-biological child, but it is still important to have confident representation. A DuPage County family law attorney can help you through the process of a step-parent adoption and ensure that your family’s rights are protected. 

Step-Child Adoption in Illinois

In Illinois, an adult who is at least 18 years old must meet the following criteria to adopt a child:

  • They must have lived in Illinois for a minimum of six months, unless they are in the armed forces. A member of the armed forces must live in Illinois for 90 days to be considered eligible to proceed with adopting a child.
  • They must have a good reputation. That is, they must have good standing in their community.
  • They must not have a legal disability. Mental or physical ailments that limit major life activities qualify as legal disabilities.

To legally adopt the child of your spouse, the parental rights of the child’s other biological parent must be terminated. A parent may voluntarily terminate their parental rights, or a court may find reason to terminate the rights of a biological parent if they are not fit to take care of the child. Some examples in which a court may decide to terminate parental rights include:

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Wheaton parental responsibility lawyerDepending on the source you look at, the percentage of marriages that end in divorce in the United States ranges from 40 to 55 percent. Divorce is not easy and can be very contentious, especially when it comes to child issues. 

Prior to 2016, Illinois still used the terms physical custody, legal custody, and visitation when dealing with divorces that involved children. After a reform was made to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are two major components that you must address if you have children and are getting a divorce: parenting time and parental responsibilities. These changes were made in recognition of the way parenting actually happens in families. Rather than having one parent as the sole child rearer, the law encourages parents to share in parenting time and responsibilities. 

Legal Definitions

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are specific definitions for both parenting time and parental responsibilities:

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West Chicago adoption lawyerAccording to the United States Census Bureau, nearly 20.2 million children, or 27 percent, were being raised by a single parent in 2016. This number has skyrocketed since 1960, when the number of children raised in a single-parent household was around nine percent. While there are still stigmas surrounding children raised in a single-parent household, most people have accepted that children who are raised by one parent have households that are just as loving as households with two parents, if not more so. Pursuing adoption as a single parent can be tricky, but it is not impossible and can be achieved with proper preparation and knowledge.

Making the Decision to Adopt

Before you move forward with the adoption process, it is a good idea for a prospective adoptive parent to examine why they are pursuing adoption. Are you adopting because you are lonely or have not had luck with romantic relationships? Are you adopting because you have infertility issues or have suffered another loss? You should make sure you are adopting because you want to fulfill the needs of a child and form a life-long relationship with them, not to help yourself.

Do You Have a Support System?

Parenting is not easy, and being a single parent can be even harder, which is why it is important that you have a solid support system you can rely on when you need help. Family and friends often prove to be especially important when it comes to your support system. You should consider the following when thinking about whether you will have the support you need throughout the adoption process:

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West Chicago divorce lawyer co-parentingA divorce is the end of a marital relationship, but if you have children, your final court date is not the last you will see of your ex-spouse. When you have children with someone, it creates a bond between you that will last forever. Though you and your spouse may not live together anymore, you still have to figure out how you will share parenting responsibilities and duties. These tips can help you increase your chances of successful co-parenting after a divorce:

1. Keep Your Emotions Under Control

If you are recently divorced, it is not unusual for you to still have lingering emotions about the end of your marriage, but it is important that you put those emotions aside for the benefit of your children. Anger, resentment, and jealousy have no place when it comes to parenting your children. Keeping a level head is key to successful co-parenting.

2. Improve Communication With Your Ex-Spouse

Though it can seem impossible, making sure you have healthy communication with your spouse is crucial to co-parenting success. Treat your new relationship like a business partnership and meet consistently with your ex-spouse to discuss your children and make sure that you are both in the loop about what is going on in their lives.

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Winfield adoption lawyerAdoption is a long and complicated legal process that can test the patience and devotion of even the most dedicated of families. There are many loose ends that must be tied up before the adoption can be finalized, and one of those loose ends is gaining consent from all appropriate parties for the adoption. That means getting permission from the child’s birth parents or adoption agency and, in some circumstances, you might even need the child’s permission to adopt him or her. Getting consent from the child’s birth parents or adoption agency means that they are handing over all related rights and responsibilities concerning the child to the adoptive parents. 

Those Who Are Required to Give Consent

In Illinois, it is a requirement that the birth mother and the birth father--provided that paternity has been legally established--give their consent for the child to be adopted. In cases where the child is no longer in the care of his or her birth parents, consent must be given by:

  • The child’s legal guardian or guardian ad litem;
  • The adoption agency which has custody of the child;
  • A close relative of the child; or
  • A court which has jurisdiction over the child.

In cases that involve the adoption of a child who is at least 14 years old, the child must also give their consent to being adopted. If the child is in need of mental health treatment or has an intellectual disability, the court may waive the need for the child’s consent.

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Winfield divorce attorney litigation mediationGetting a divorce means making decisions that will affect you and your family for the rest of your lives--it is safe to say that divorce should not be taken likely. Most people think that you only have one option when it comes to getting a divorce: litigation in court. But as there is more than one way of getting married, there is more than one way of getting divorced. Another increasingly popular method of dissolving marriages is mediation. Examining the pros and cons of each form of divorce can help you decide which type of divorce would be better for you.

Litigation

Many people consider litigation to be the traditional divorce method. In a litigated divorce, both spouses are represented by their own lawyers. The lawyers are there to give their parties legal advice about certain issues and to negotiate the terms of the divorce agreement. If negotiations between the parties fail, the attorneys can represent the parties in court, asking the judge to make a final decision about any outstanding issues.

Litigated divorces can often be long and stressful, especially if they go to trial. Divorce litigation is not uncommon, especially because nearly 80 percent of divorces are sought by only one spouse while the other spouse is not in agreement. When your divorce case goes to court, it increases the amount of time it takes to reach a decision, because you are relying on the court’s availability and timeline. Litigated divorces can also become messy and combative, which can be hard on the whole family, especially the children.

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Wheaton open adoption attorneyMany people may not have heard the term “open adoption” before. The concept of an open adoption is a relatively new one--it started gaining popularity in the United States in the 1980s and 90s. Now, it is estimated that the vast majority of domestic adoptions (nearly 95 percent) involve some degree of openness. Open adoptions are gaining popularity due to the benefits they provide for birth parents and the children themselves.

What Is an Open Adoption?

In a traditional or closed adoption, the identities of the birth parents are kept confidential, and they have no contact with the adoptive family before or after the child is adopted. In these cases, the thought process tended to be that if the birth parents knew where the child was, they might attempt to take the child back at some point. However, this would be against the law, because once a child is adopted, the adoptive family is considered the child’s legal family.

In an open adoption, one or both of the birth parents are involved in the child’s life to varying degrees or have some form of contact with the adoptive family. There are no set types of open adoptions; rather, each open adoption is structured to meet the families’ needs. The adoption could be fully open, where the child, adoptive family, and birth parents have regular contact with each other and form relationships, or the adoption could be semi-open or mediated, meaning the families communicate indirectly with each other through an adoption agency.

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Winfield divorce mediation lawyerDivorce can be intimidating--there are many different types of divorce and many ways you can create a divorce settlement. It can be overwhelming to figure out which type of divorce is right for you. A traditional litigated divorce can carry a lot of stress and can take a long time; a collaborative divorce can become expensive, but fosters a healthy cooperative environment; and a mediated divorce brings its own advantages and is becoming an increasingly popular choice for divorcees. It is important to choose the right type of divorce for your family so you can get the most out of a less-than-happy experience.

If you are able and willing to cooperatively work with your spouse to come to an agreement on your outstanding divorce issues, mediation may be the best option for you. Along with the peaceful nature of the process and the lower cost than other methods, there are many advantages to a mediated divorce, including:

1. It Is Easier on Your Children

In traditional, litigated divorces, there is often a lot of stress and tension in the household during the process. Children are very receptive and can sense the conflict between their parents. Divorce mediation is, by nature, a more peaceful process, because your mediator helps facilitate cooperation and meaningful conversation between you and your spouse. This will help you build a foundation for working together to raise your children after your divorce has been finalized. 

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West Chicago divorce mediation lawyerPreparing for divorce is not easy. In some ways, preparing for divorce mediation can be even more difficult. Because of the cooperative nature of mediation, you have to put aside your differences to an extent and work together with your spouse to achieve an outcome you are both okay with. With all of the benefits of divorce mediation, you should try to prepare yourself as much as possible to facilitate a successful mediation process. Here are some ways to get ready for divorce mediation:

1. Come With Copies of Important Documents

You should come to your mediation sessions with copies of all of the important documents that you and your spouse have accumulated while you were married. These documents should include assets and liabilities such as:

  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement funds
  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Stocks
  • Businesses
  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards
  • Loans

2. Prepare to Negotiate Rather Than Argue

Arguing is probably one of the things that got you into the divorce process, and you should realize that it will likely not help you resolve anything. Negotiating is what divorce mediation is all about. Once you realize that the past is the past, you can focus on looking at the bigger picture and what really matters. The mediator is there to help minimize arguing and promote collaboration, but you have to do your part to be in the mindset to work together.

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West Chicago divorce attorney irreconcilable differencesDivorce is not an uncommon thing--in the United States alone, there are nearly one million divorces granted each year. Most states have adopted a no-fault divorce policy that does not require couples to divulge the reason they are getting divorced, but simply state that their marriage is beyond repair. Throughout the world, there have been tales of strange reasons why people have gotten divorced that range from slightly odd to flat out ridiculous. Here are seven strange stories of why people have filed for divorce:

  • A Japanese woman filed for divorce from her husband after she took him to see the movie “Frozen,” and he did not appreciate it like she did. The women ended her marriage of six years because of her husband’s dislike of the Disney movie.
  • A man in Dubai divorced his wife because he thought she was possessed by a genie. The wife’s family told him that she was possessed by a “djin”--which is a genie-like creature in Arabic folklore--after she refused to have sex with him.
  • A woman who resides in Kuwait divorced her new husband when she discovered that his way of eating peas was different than hers. The couple was only married for a week before she found out that he eats peas with bread instead of with a fork, which she cited as bad table manners.
  • A Chinese woman sought divorce after the family parrot began clueing her in on her husband’s affair. The parrot began saying things like “divorce,” “I love you,” and “be patient” after it overheard her husband’s phone calls to his mistress.
  • A man from Israel filed for divorce from his wife after she brought home 550 cats. The man said the cats hindered the quality of his home life, and the couple agreed that reconciliation was a good option for them, though the wife ended up choosing the cats over her husband, resulting in a divorce.
  • A lot of women try to get their husbands to clean more, but that was not the case for a German woman who divorced her husband because he cleaned entirely too much. She filed for divorce after the man tore down a wall in their house because it was too dirty.
  • A Nigerian woman divorced her husband of six years because she said he talked too much. She stated that he would often tell his friends about family matters instead of talking to her about them.

Get Representation From a Warrenville Divorce Lawyer

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that the only required grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences. You may decide to end your marriage for a multitude of reasons, but no matter the cause, you need an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney to help you along the way. When you decide to seek the help of the Law Offices of Nancy Kasko, LLC, you are putting your case in good hands. Contact our office at 630-836-8540 to schedule a free consultation.

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Wheaton divorce lawyer child issuesOften, when couples who are married begin thinking about a divorce, the topic of children comes up. Do you stay together for the kids, or do you divorce? Every divorce is different, and so is every child--that is why there is not really any way of knowing what exact effect a divorce will have on your child. However, many studies have shown that staying in an unhappy marriage can be more damaging to children than the effects of a divorce. Some of the effects that children may experience in this type of situation include:

1. Chronic Stress

Parents play a crucial role in a child’s development--their relationship with their parents is one of the most important parts of their upbringing. When a child is raised with parents who are constantly at odds, they internalize the conflict. This means that rather than feeling at ease and comforted when they are with both parents, they feel tension and stress. Such constant stress can also cause physical symptoms in children, such as depression or chronic fatigue.

2. Mood Problems or Behavioral Issues

Parents who are constantly fighting teach their children to forgo optimism and expect the worst at a very young age. This can cause problems in children such as dysthymia, which is a mild, but long-term form of depression. These problems can also be the root of many adult issues, like personality disorders or substance abuse.

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