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Illinois domestic violence lawyersDomestic violence impacts an estimated one in three women and one in four men experience intimate partner violence. Children are also impacted by domestic violence, regardless of whether they are abused themselves. Still, with one report of abuse being made every 10 seconds, their rate of abuse is just as concerning. 

A restraining order can provide all of these abuse victims with legal protections to keep them safe from their abuser. However, there are minimum requirements that must be met in order to obtain one.

The Legal Definition of Domestic Violence 

Not all hurtful actions are legally defined as domestic violence. Instead, the victim must have experienced:

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DuPage County family law attorney, domestic violenceThe determination of child custody can be a very difficult topic in both separations and divorces. However, the issue becomes more complicated when domestic violence has occurred in the household. When an order of protection is entered in a case, it severely impacts the rights of one parent. 

In order to obtain an order of protection in DuPage County, as in most other counties across Illinois, a few factors must be present. First, there needs to be some domestic relationship between you and the person you are seeking the order of protection against.  Second, there must be a history of abuse. Lastly, you need to be a resident of DuPage County in order to get an order of protection against the abuser.

If your husband, boyfriend, or family member abused you or your child, you should contact an experienced domestic violence attorney who will assist you obtaining an order of protection to ensure you and your family can live safely without the threat of violence. 

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DuPage County family law attorneys, misconduct during pregnancyIn our society, parental rights are fundamental rights, meaning they are the type of rights that are guaranteed to citizens of the United States by virtue of the Constitution. Because of this fact, to terminate parental rights, the government needs to prove that there has been some behavior or misconduct so bad that it causes harm or a threat of harm to the well-being of a child, and therefore the government has the right to intervene on the child(ren)’s behalf.

Misconduct, Neglect, and Abuse of Children

When we think about misconduct or behavior that is considered neglectful or abusive, generally we think about actions taken by parents to injure or hurt a child from infancy until the child is no longer a minor. However, Illinois law (among other jurisdictions in the United States) has found that misconduct while a fetus is still in utero may trigger termination of parental rights once the child has left the womb. Under our law, how can the government enforce the termination of parental rights for neonatal abuse?

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alcohol abuseNo-fault divorces have become increasingly common in Illinois. Still, the traditional grounds for divorce are still available for use. One of the grounds still used in Illinois is one party having a drug addiction or drinking addiction for at least two years. Whether that particular ground is used to file for the dissolution or not, alcohol often plays a major role in divorces in the United States.

The Statistics

Studies show that marriages are more likely to end when one spouse has a serious problem with alcohol. One particular study conducted by the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions noted that where one spouse in a marriage (and only one spouse) drank heavily (until intoxicated or having six or more drinks), the marriage was likely to end in divorce 50 percent of the time.

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domestic violenceWhile domestic violence sometimes reflects an abusive relationship between two partners, it is a sad fact that many times, domestic violence reaches the entire family and affects children as well. Even if children are not the object of the abuse, the negative effects on their well-being from exposure to such conduct is undeniable. The state of Illinois obviously agrees, since the legislature takes the position that domestic violence is unhealthy for childhood development. Illinois courts take domestic violence incidents into special account when making custody determinations.

Domestic Violence and Custody Decisions

Since a good portion of domestic violence cases ultimately involve divorce and/or child custody proceedings, it makes sense that such cases receive special consideration by Illinois courts. Specifically, in custody cases in which domestic violence is an issue, courts presume that it is in the child’s best interest to not have contact with the parent accused of abuse. This includes living with the abusive parent and having visitation with him or her. It is the law that the judge must be notified at the outset of any custody case whether either party to the matter is involved in other court proceedings regarding domestic violence or protective orders.

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In Illinois, and any other state for that matter, victims of domestic abuse and violence may seek safety through what is called an Order of Protection. An Order of Protection is a legal court document, signed by a judge, that explicitly orders one individual (the abuser) to stay away from or to stop a certain behavior toward another individual (the victim.) The person who files for the order is referred to as the “petitioner”, while the person against which the order has been filed is known as the “respondent.” If the respondent fails to adhere to the rules listed in the Order of Protection, they will very likely be arrested. order of protection IMAGEThere are three different types of Orders of Protection, the first and least temporary one known as an Emergency Order of Protection. These are typically granted right away so as to stop abuse as soon as possible and only last for 14 to 21 days. If the petitioner wishes to have the abuser removed from the shared home, the judge must believe that the immediate danger of abuse is greater than the hardship to the abuser of being spontaneously removed from his or her home. The second type of Order is called an Interim Order of Protection. These orders last up to 30 days, a bit longer than the emergency orders. These are granted by a judge while waiting for something else to happen-typically a hearing or a trial. You do not need to have a full court hearing to be granted an interim order, the abuser is required to make an initial appearance before the court or have been notified of the date of the hearing. Interim orders are typically used to cover the time between your emergency order’s termination and the full court hearing for a longer-lasting plenary order. The third and most permanent Order of Protection is the Plenary order. These are only granted after a full court hearing in which both the abuser and victim have a chance to present evidence. They may last for up to two years and may be renewed as many times as you wish. If you or someone you know has a question about obtaining an Order of Protection, feel free to contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney to assist you.

Posted on in Child Custody

Crying Toddler With Arm In CastIn Illinois, there has been an increase in the number of children who die due to abuse and neglect. For the fiscal year ending in June of 2013, the number of children who passed away from abuse and neglect was the highest it has been in 30 years.  The saddest news about this total is that some of these deaths may have been avoided. An Illinois Senate subcommittee has been questioning state officials from the Department of Child and Family Services about this steep increase.  Acting director of the DCFS, Denise Gonzales, admitted that over 100 children died due to mistreatment and ten more cases are still pending.  The average per year total has been around 75 for the last 30 years. About 75 percent of the deaths were caused by accidental suffocation from infants sleeping with blankets, or with their parents or on their stomachs. In the past these types of cases were only classified as neglect if the parents were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Now children who suffocate while sleeping are categorized as neglect cases if it can be proven that the parents knew about the dangers of letting children sleep on their stomachs or with blankets and other items. But it was also found that the DCFS in Illinois has been suffering from a larger caseload with a smaller staff.  Although a senator asked for the resignation of Gonzales, that might not happen.  Gonzales took over when the previous head of the DCFS resigned due to a terminal cancer diagnosis.  Gonzales is still dedicated to making the DCFS better by reducing caseloads, leaning out middle management and improving the hotline for reporting child neglect. The DCFS will continue to receive tips about possible abuse and neglect that is occurring in Illinois.  If you are summoned to juvenile court by the DCFS then it is important to be prepared.  The consequences may be losing care of your children or being placed under court supervision.  Contact a skilled family law attorney in Warrenville today to review your case.

MelissaPriscilla Forys, a 22-year-old mother, has been charged with felony aggravated battery and misdemeanor counts of endangering the life and health of a child, and contributing to the neglect of a child. Her boyfriend, 21-year-old Julian Hernandez, has been charged with felony aggravated battery and misdemeanor endangering the life and health of a child. Bail was set for $750,000 each at the Cook County Courthouse on February 9, according to this article from The Chicago Tribune. Forys’ 3-year-old girl was found to be so badly neglected she had lost both weight and hair. She was malnourished, and infections from her neglect. The 8-month-old boy had more serious signs of abuse. He had been submerged in a scalding hot tub of water on more than one occasion, causing 3rd degree burns to his stomach, knees, and feet. In addition, his mother admitted to biting him on at least three occasions, causing permanent scarring. Forys and Hernandez brought the boy to the hospital when they noticed his upper right leg was swollen. While there, hospital workers noticed the scarring and burns, along with malnourishment and multiple broken bones. The children are now in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services, who is investigating the claims of abuse and neglect. DCFS had no prior contact with the family before this. If bail is posted for either Forys or Hernandez, they have been ordered to not have any contact with minor children. Allowing harm to come to your child has severe repercussions, including possible fines, jail time, or loss of custody. If you believe your child is suffering from abuse or neglect, contact our family law attorneys in Wheaton or Warrenville to learn how you can build a case.
TheresaThe Chicago Tribune reports that there have been limited successes when it comes to home visits and interventions by medical personnel when it comes to the prevention of child abuse. This study was performed based on several U.S. based studies as well as ten different international based analyses. The United States Department of Health and Human Services reported that there were approximately 675,000 documented cases of child abuse in 2011. This number represents about one percent of the nation’s children. In approximately nine percent of these cases there were incidents of sexual abuse. These studies included families that were at high risk for abuse based on questionnaires that were filled out and referrals from medical personnel. There were certain variables such as one family not receiving any home visits but they were left with child abuse education materials and then referred to a social worker. Some of the programs observed were directly linked to a lower number of abuse cases being reported. This number did not represent a lower instance of abuse but just that they were not being reported. It is the agency’s goal to create programs that will help children that are being abused as well as preventing abuse before it starts. They also want to investigate the harm that some of the current programs may be causing. There is the option of removing the children from the home and placing them into foster care, but that opens the door to other potential dangers and issues. If you have been the victim of an abusive situation or are concerned for the safety of your children in the home of a former mate or a family member,  enlist the assistance of an experienced Illinois family law attorney. Your attorney can make a recommendation for the best course of action in your situation.

A Los Angeles judge recently determined that teen actress Ariel Winter should remain in her sister’s care and not return to her mother’s custody. The 14-year-old “Modern Family” star will remain with her sister for several more weeks. The ruling was decided upon by Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas considered a report by child protective investigators involving Winter’s mother, Chrisoula Workman. Investigators found evidence of emotional abuse toward Winter, according to Levanas. The agency planned to step in and take action of its own if Winter did not remain with a guardian. This court ruling came more than six weeks after allegations were made towards Workman of physical and emotional abuse of Winter and she was temporarily stripped of custody. Although Levanas said the investigators’ report found that the claims of physical abuse were inconclusive, an attorney for Winter’s sister claimed that they could be proven in an additional report. December 12 has been the date set by the judge to decide whether Winter should be placed into a permanent guardianship. Winter has been cared for by her sister, Shanelle Gray, since early October. Levanas says that he will work towards keeping the family together if the case remains in his courtroom. It is possible that the Department of Children and Family Services could choose to file a case of its own and remove it from Levanas’s jurisdiction. Workman has denied all accusations of abuse towards her daughter. Winter’s father, Glenn Workman, also filed an objection to the guardianship saying that he is willing to care for her, stating that he wants a better relationship with her. Judge Levanas says that Glenn Workman’s statement, however, conflicts with a report that he gave to investigators, and he cannot receive custody of Winters. Both parents agree that they just want Ariel Winters to return home and her sister is not a suitable guardian. If your family seems to be tearing apart like this unfortunate case, contact a family law attorney in Illinois today. The Davi Law Group can help you keep your family together, contact them today.

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