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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 domestic violence lawyersDomestic violence, which impacts approximately one in three women (and one in four men) is a near silent epidemic. Terrified to leave or speak out, victims often live behind the facade of a happy home, despite being in constant danger. Sadly, the longer they stay in the relationship, the more they risk serious injury or death at the hands of their abuser. Thankfully, there are legal steps that victims can use to protect themselves when they find the strength and courage to leave.

How a Restraining Order Can Protect You and Your Child

Restraining orders are designed to provide legal protections to victims of domestic violence. More specifically, they:

  • Prohibit your abuser from intimidating, harassing, stalking, exploiting, or negatively impacting your personal liberty;
  • Mandate that your abuser stay away from you and anyone else listed on the order of protection;
  • Prohibit your abuser from removing your child from the state, or hiding them away from you within the state;
  • Order your abuser to stay away from your school, place of employment, and other specific places you may frequently visit;
  • Prohibit your abuser from destroying or getting rid of your belongings;
  • Prohibit your abuser from possessing a firearm;
  • Require that your abuser reimburse you for shelter and counseling services (when applicable);
  • Exclude your abuser from the home in which you are living (even when owned or leased by the abuser);
  • Mandate that your abuser return all personal belongings to you;
  • Prohibit your abuser from causing any harm to your child (mentally, physically, or sexually); and
  • Prohibit your abuser from removing a shared child from your physical care. 

Emergency Orders of Protection

While most victims need long-term protection from their abuser, such orders take time to put into place. Emergency orders help to fill the gap by providing immediate protection to the victim. Based solely on the testimony of the victim, these orders can be obtained at any time - even on holidays or at night, when the courts are closed. However, they only offer you protection for 14 to 21 days. Therefore, it is critical that victims begin the process for obtaining a long-term order of protection (known as plenary orders of protection) while the emergency order is still in place. 

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Wheaton family law lawyersFamily law is a broad area of the law with many subsections. However, some issues are more common and complex than others. Learn more about the most common and currently emerging family law courts, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton attorneys can help you manage them and mitigate against any complications that you may be facing in your Illinois family law case. 

Divorce and Legal Separation 

Statistics indicate that the divorce rate has been dropping over the last several years, but it continues to be one of the more common family law matters, both in Illinois and nationwide. Legal separations, though less common than divorce and perhaps even some other family law issues, are also frequently seen issues in family courts.

Child-Related Matters

Child matters are also extremely common in family courts. They include:

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Wheaton divorce attorneysWhile many marriages end amicably, there are some that end with bitter words and violence. In an alarming number of these cases, the abuse dates back to before the marriage's dissolution. Thankfully, victims of abuse can find at least some solace in the law; they are afforded many protections in the workplace, and they have the right to seek an order of protection to keep their abuser at bay. However, if there are children involved, their divorce case usually becomes far more complicated. 

Understanding How Illinois Views Parental Rights

Parental rights are not intended for the parent; the courts afford them to parents to protect a child’s right to receive financial and emotional support from both of its biological parents. Because of this, victims of abuse may need to face some scary possibilities during their divorce: 

  • Abusers may still be permitted access to the children. If the courts determine that the children have not been abused and are not at risk for abuse, they may be permitted both parenting time and a share of the allocation of parental responsibilities; 
  • Situations involving questionable or confirmed abuse can still allow for visitation, even if only under supervision; and
  • If child abuse or neglect significantly pre-dates the divorce, you can be implied in the case. The law uses this penalty to protect children from long-term abuse and to deter people from falsely reporting cases of long-term abuse. Unfortunately, it can negatively affect true victims who have struggled to safely leave the relationship. As such, any cases of long-term abuse should be handled carefully, and only with the skilled assistance of a divorce attorney. 

Child Endangerment Charges in an Illinois Divorce Case

The divorce process can become highly complex if child endangerment charges are brought against you or your spouse during the divorce process. You or your spouse may be questioned or interviewed by the police and Child Protective Services. The courts may also assign a Guardian Ad Litem to your child’s case. Your children may even be placed in protective custody and sent to live with a family member or in a foster home. Regardless of whether you are the accused or the victim, ensure you embark on such divorces with great care. 

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Illinois domestic violence lawyersWhen your dream of a happy marriage becomes a nightmare, it can be difficult to discern whether leaving is a good idea - especially since so many of the horror stories of abuse involve a woman trying to leave her abusive husband. Thankfully, there are protections available to abused women. Learn more about them in the following sections and discover some tips on keeping yourself safe while trying to leave an abusive marriage, including how a seasoned divorce lawyer can assist with the legal aspects of your case. 

Take Time to Adequately Prepare for the Separation 

Although there are circumstances in which you have to leave to ensure your safety, it is usually better if you take the time to adequately prepare for the separation, long before your spouse catches wind of your desire to leave. Start by saving your own money in a separate bank account. It is also recommended that you keep a copy of your driver’s license, social security, birth certificate, and banking information with a trusted party, such as a close friend or family member. If at all possible, try to also store clothing and personal items with this person, as it will ensure you have what you need if the relationship suddenly becomes more violent. 

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Illinois domestic violence lawyersAbusive partners have always used methods of control against their victims, but with the latest advancements in technology, they have more tools at their disposal. The abuse of “smart home” devices and cell phones are just two examples that are cropping up in divorces around the nation. Thankfully, victims can protect themselves from a technologically savvy abusive spouse. Learn more in the following sections, including how a seasoned Illinois divorce lawyer can provide victims yet another layer of protection while they are seeking a divorce or separation. 

Abuse Using “Smart Homes” and Other Advanced Technology

While technology abuse may not seem like much of a threat, the truth is that perpetrators are using advanced devices like smart home systems to make the lives of their victims unbearable. For example, they may remotely turn the lights off and on, or they may turn up the heater to an unbearable temperature. Unfortunately, when victims try to explain the abuse, law enforcement and other officials may dismiss their claims as “crazy” or petty.

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Illinois divorce attorneysStalking may not be an issue in all divorces, but it is common in marriages that have an element of abuse or violence. Thanks to technology and digital tools, stalkers also have more ways to track their spouses during and after a divorce. If you are leaving an abusive or dangerous marriage, learn more about the tactics that may be used to track you during your divorce, and discover how an experienced attorney can help protect you from a violent spouse.

GPS Tracking and Your Rights

Whether you are aware of it or not, your phone and the applications on it can track your location. Yet, even without a cell phone (or one in which the GPS function had been disabled), abusive spouses have a workaround. Miniature GPS tracking devices – some no larger than a button battery – can be installed in purses, on vehicles, and even jackets or other clothing items.

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DuPage County domestic violence lawyersDomestic violence in divorce is more common than most people realize, yet there is still little statistical information on the challenges that victims face after leaving their marriage. For example, experts have long known that victims and their children are at risk for heightened violence after leaving the relationship, but they questioned whether the type of abuse may be an influencing factor in the severity or frequency of such issues.

There is also little evidence on how co-parenting with an abuser may affect the victim. Instead, the focus is typically placed on the influence that an abuser may have the child (whether positive or negative). While this is not just expected, but also typically what is best for the child, there are scenarios in which that may not be the case. One prime example might be if the continued contact places the mother in serious physical danger and the anxiety of it is negatively affecting the child. In such situations, an appropriate strategy may be needed.

Type of Abuse Can Impact Co-Parenting

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DuPage County family law attorneysDivorce, in and of itself, is a complex legal process. Abuse, particularly the abuse of a shared child, can complicate matters even further. Thankfully, there are actions that you can take protect your child during the divorce process. Learn more, including what an experienced divorce attorney can do for you, with help from the following information.

Focus on Safety First

If you and your child are in an abusive situation, find a place where you can be safe. Family, friends, and even domestic violence shelters are examples of viable emergency options. It is also advised that you develop a safety plan and that you seek assistance with a restraining order. Both can provide additional protection while you are going through the divorce process.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersEvery minute, 20 people in the United States are abused by an intimate partner. Someone they love and trust. Perhaps also someone to which they are married. Sadly, leaving such a marriage is rarely easy. There is the risk of retaliation, and the legal system still has gaps in its protection of victims. Thankfully, there are ways that married victims can protect themselves. One of them is the use of a safety plan. Learn more about how it can help you, and what other strategies you may have to protect yourself from an abusive spouse during divorce or legal separation.

What is a Safety Plan?

A safety plan is a detailed account of how you will respond to various situations. It can also help to ensure you have all the documents and information you need to move forward with your life once you leave (i.e. birth certificate, social security card, school transfer papers for the children, bank account information, etc.). You can also incorporate family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers into a safety plan to improve the transition process. A few things you may wish to address could include:

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DuPage County family law attorneys, orders of protectionIf you have a temporary order of protection issued by an Illinois court to protect your safety and that of your family, it can be terrifying to think about what the abuser may do when the designated time period expires. By its terms, a typical restraining order may last anywhere from a few weeks up to a couple of years, depending on the circumstances.

Fortunately, Illinois law does provide alternatives to letting an order of protection expire, but the process to extend or modify can be complicated. An attorney with experience in restraining orders can tell you more about the proceedings.

Types of Orders of Protection Under Illinois Law

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DuPage County domestic violence attorneys, domestic violence victimsThe Illinois budget crisis has been in the news often, but it has had an unfortunate, relatively unknown impact on the victims of domestic violence. According to an April 3, 2017 report in Crain’s Chicago Business, there have been no new funds dedicated to the state’s domestic abuse programs; some of these groups offer legal advice and counsel to individuals seeking to protect themselves and their families from violence.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you do have options to ensure your safety despite the lack of money for certain programs. Instead of attempting to go it alone, consult with a domestic violence attorney who knows the law and court procedures in Illinois.

Statutes on Domestic Violence

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domestic violence, domestic violence and children, DuPage County family law attorneysStudies show that children who witness a domestic violence attack grow up feeling isolated and vulnerable. Witnessing an incident can mean more than just seeing an attack happen. It can also mean a child hearing threats or fighting noises of an abusive situation, or observing the aftermath such as blood, bruises, crying, torn clothing, and broken items around the house. All of these can have long term effects on the child of an abusive relationship.

Exposed children can become more fearful or anxious when put into certain situations. This can result in keeping a secret from the rest of their family, whom could have helped the victim otherwise. In some cases, the burden of keeping this undisclosed information can cause adolescents to blame themselves for the abuse they witnessed and think that if they would have told someone or done something about it, then the abuse would not have continued. In extreme cases, children can become emotionally, physically, or even psychologically abandoned.

Domestic violence lawsuits may result in limited visitation for parents if their child has been affected. The option of having police present to be protected from an alleged abuser can be given in court. Children are often affected by domestic violence because the abuse must be committed by a family, spouse, parents, those who have children in common, or have been or are in a dating or engagement relationship.

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New Illinois Gun Law Affects Those with Restraining OrdersA new law was just passed in Illinois that affects people who have restraining orders against them. The law further restricts the ability to own guns for people who have orders of protection against them or other specific domestic violence charges.

The Law

The new law goes into effect January 1, 2017. The statute lets the Illinois State Police revoke gun owners’ Firearm Owner's Identification Cards and deny someone’s application for the cards if they have certain protections filed against them. If someone has an order of protection or an order of no contact for stalking that applies to them, then they are eligible to have their ability to own firearms restricted under this new law.

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DuPage County restraining order lawyers, orders of protectionIf you or your child has been the victim of violence from a family member, you may be considering getting a restraining order to help protect yourself and other family members at risk of being victims of violence. Indeed, it is important to have a basic understanding of domestic violence and restraining order laws in Illinois.

What is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order, formally called an “Order of Protection,” prohibits a person from engaging in abusive or harassing behavior. Orders of protection are issued after there has been evidence of domestic violence. In Illinois, domestic violence is defined as abuse by one family or household member against another family or household member. “Family or household member” includes a spouse or ex-spouse, children, stepchildren, people who share a child, parents, people who are dating each other or used to date, and people who live together or used to live together. Domestic violence also includes a person with disabilities and his or her caretaker.

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DuPage County family law attorney, parenting timeOne of the most difficult things to deal with is an allegation of domestic violence in the middle of a family law case. Because judges rightfully take domestic violence claims seriously, even unfounded allegations can drastically affect the way a family law case moves forward. Sometimes, even parenting time is cut off. If you are the subject of domestic violence allegations, you need to understand your rights.

Types of Allegations

There are several different types of domestic violence allegations. If one party accuses the other of abuse in a court filing or during testimony, the court will have to consider what proof is available to support these claims. While these allegations will be taken seriously, they are often given less credence than other types of allegations. 

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DuPage County family law attorneys, Marsy’s LawOctober was Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In Illinois, state representatives have taken notice by drafting and implementing new survivor-oriented legislation to help make it easier for survivors of domestic violence and abuse to protect themselves, their family, and to hopefully eradicate themselves from a bad situation.

House Bill 1121 was passed in August of 2015 and amends the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act, with the addition of Marsy’s Law. Marsy’s Law was origni an initiative in California, but has been a part of a nationwide movement to assert greater Constitutional rights of victims in the criminal justice process. In Illinois in May 2015, the Illinois Senate passed Marsy’s law with an unanimous vote.

Marsy’s Law in Illinois 

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DuPage County child visitation attorneys, domestic violence, child visitationMaking decisions about child custody during a divorce can be difficult. Making these decisions is even more complex when domestic violence is involved. While an abusive relationship may be limited to the relationship between two adults, there is no way to know the effect domestic violence may have on your child.

As you begin to separate from an abusive spouse you may wonder how to limit the impact of abuse on your children. It is important that you understand how the court may address the abuse issue when making decisions regarding child visitation

Will My Abusive Spouse be Given Visitation?

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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, orders of protectionDomestic violence against family members or a loved one is one of the most difficult issues to handle in family law. However, if you are a victim of this type of abuse the law provides protection from your offender in the form of an “Order of Protection.” This court order prohibits an attacker from coming near or making any type of contact with you for as long as the order stands.

Illinois Domestic Violence

Under Illinois law, 750 ILCS 60/103 describes domestic violence as abuse of a family or household member. To fall under this category, a family or household member includes: 

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