Divorce is not exactly known for bringing out the best in people. Yet despite conflict being common during divorce, your spouse should not be subjecting you to behavior that makes you afraid of him or her. Unfortunately, some spouses attempt to scare, coerce, or intimidate their partners during divorce out of a desire for revenge, to get the upper hand in divorce negotiations, or simply to be a jerk.
This is not normal behavior, and you do not have to tolerate it. If your spouse is stalking or harassing you, your children, or any other member of your family, you may be able to take legal action in Illinois Court to stop the behavior.
What Counts as Harassment and Stalking in Illinois?
Stalking and harassing are illegal behaviors in Illinois. However, before you can seek relief from a spouse who exhibits these behaviors, you need to make sure they actually rise to the level of stalking or harassment.
Stalking and harassment often overlap, but they are not exactly the same. “Harassment” is behavior that is not necessary to accomplish any legitimate purpose and causes a reasonable person emotional distress. Examples of harassing behavior include:
- Disturbing someone at work or school
- Repeatedly calling someone
- Following someone in public places
- Staying outside someone’s home, work, car, or school to surveil them
- Threatening to remove a child or hide a child, or actually removing or hiding a child
- Threatening physical force
“Stalking” means knowingly and without legal reason, following someone or placing her under surveillance and:
- Threatening her with bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, etc.
- Placing someone in reasonable fear that the stalker may actually apprehend, harm, sexual assault, or confine her or a family member
Not all harassment is stalking, but stalking is usually considered harassment. Most stalking or harassing actions do not have to occur on more than one occasion before a Judge will take them seriously enough to put a protective order in place requiring the stalker or harasser to stop his or her behavior and stay away from the victim.
What if I am Afraid My Spouse Will Hurt My Children?
If your spouse has exhibited violent, threatening, or abusive behavior toward you or your children, you may be able to get a protective order against him or her based on this behavior alone. In Illinois, Emergency Orders of Protection (EOPs) are available on a per se basis, meaning the abuser’s presence is not needed to secure the order. These protection orders are often issued on the same day on which they are requested. An EOP may require the abuser to immediately vacate your shared residence and prohibit the abuser from coming near you or your children.
If your spouse is deemed to be a threat to your children, he or she may lose access to them altogether until the divorce is resolved and a final parenting plan is put in place. At other times, a Judge may decide it is safe to give a spouse limited or supervised parenting time while the divorce continues.
Meet with a Skilled Northwest Cook County Divorce Lawyer
You do not have to be terrorized by your spouse during the divorce. Whether your spouse is already bothering you or you want to get divorced but are afraid of your spouse, get help from experienced Palatine divorce attorney Nicholas W. Richardson. Whether you need an order of protection, supervised visitation for your children, or any other measure to make sure you get through the divorce safely, we can help. Call 847.873.6741 today.