Domestic violence is committed anytime an individual hits, kicks, chokes, harasses, threatens, or interferes with the personal liberty of a family member or a person in their household. Unfortunately, many people are affected by domestic abuse every day. In May 2019, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) answered their 5 millionth call from a victim seeking help.
Trying to get out of an abusive marriage can be difficult. You might be afraid to leave your relationship if your spouse has threatened retaliation. Ending a dangerous marriage requires preparation and special considerations, especially if a child is involved. In some cases, you may be able to obtain an order of protection to restrict contact with the abuser during and after your divorce.
Creating a Safety/Escape Plan
If you are a victim of abuse, one of the first things you should do is create a plan that will protect your safety as you escape from a dangerous situation. This plan should include practical steps to remain safe while in your relationship, when you are planning to leave, and after leaving. In addition to looking at the types of legal action that can be taken, you should also consider issues such as how to cope with difficult emotions, and how to tell family and friends about the abuse.
Once you are ready to start the divorce process, you will want to provide your attorney with specific documentation of what transpired during your marriage. Therefore, when preparing for divorce, one of the first steps you should take is to make copies of financial paperwork, such as credit card and bank statements and paycheck stubs. If necessary, a family member or friend can keep these documents in a secure place.
As you prepare to leave your relationship, it is important to establish a way for people to contact you without your abusive spouse knowing. For instance, you may wish to open a post office box or a cell phone plan that is in your name only. You should also open a bank account in your name and have the statements sent to the post office box.
Orders of Protection
Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, any person who commits domestic violence or abuse has broken the law. You can obtain an order of protection against your abuser by contacting an attorney who will file a petition for this type of order in civil/divorce court.
An order of protection is a court order issued by a judge to help protect victims of domestic abuse. It contains orders for an abuser to act in a certain way or prohibit him or her from performing certain actions. The abuser, called the “respondent,” can be arrested for violating certain orders listed. For example, an order can state that your abusive spouse must stay away from you and your child or children. If your spouse violates such an order, he or she will be arrested.
The Domestic Violence Act permits a judge to approve a variety of protections. These can include:
- Giving you exclusive possession of your home and restricting your spouse from entering the home;
- Evicting your abusive spouse from the home and allowing you to return to the home;
- Requiring your spouse to provide you with alternate housing;
- Ordering support payments for you and/or your children;
- Deciding possession of personal property;
- Granting temporary child custody; and,
- Stopping harassment or violence.
Contact an Oak Park Divorce Attorney
Freeing yourself from an abusive partner is a good reason to pursue a divorce. If you are in a marriage in which you feel threatened or endangered because of your spouse’s actions, you should first contact the police, and then seek legal counsel. The Law Office of Vincent C. Machroli, P.C. can help you file an order of protection, and we will also work with you to proceed with your divorce from an abusive spouse. We have over 31 years of experience dealing with complex and high-conflict divorces, and we can help you understand how Illinois’ domestic violence laws may affect the divorce process. Call our compassionate Hillside, IL divorce lawyer today at 708-449-7400 to schedule a free consultation.