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Orland Park Divorce LawyerDomestic violence touches the lives of people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and lifestyles. It can take many forms, including physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, financial control, and sexual abuse. Many people who are caught up in abusive relationships live lives filled with fear, anger, and confusion. They desperately wish to get out of the relationship, but they worry about the consequences of doing so.

If you are in an abusive relationship, know that you are not alone and that there is help available. It is important to remember that leaving an abusive partner can be dangerous, as abusers may become more violent when they feel threatened. With safety in mind, here are some tips for taking the first steps to leaving an abusive relationship.

Protecting Yourself When Leaving an Abusive Partner

Many people stay in abusive relationships for months, years, or even decades because they fear retaliation or simply do not know how to protect themselves when leaving the relationship. If you are ready to take back your life and leave a violent situation, consider the following:

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illinois domestic violence lawyerThe period during which a victim of domestic violence attempts to escape the relationship, often by way of a divorce, can be a dangerous period. Many abusers react strongly to the prospect of losing a person they intend to retain complete control over. There may be an elevated risk of further violence, harassment, or intimidation during the time in which you are making a plan to exit. Seeking an Illinois Order of Protection may be one way to mitigate these risks. Orders of Protection can forbid the abuser from engaging in certain forms of conduct that may have a frightening or harmful effect on you. Your children may also be eligible to receive protection using one of these orders. 

Before you file for a protection order, it is best to speak with an attorney. While many do seek these orders unrepresented, it is important to know that if the abuser will not consent to the order, you may be required to attend a formal hearing where the party you are seeking an order of protection against or their attorney may have the opportunity to question you and vice-versa. These hearings are best handled by a qualified lawyer. 

Terms that May be Included in an Order of Protection

During the process of seeking an order of protection, you will generally have an opportunity to explain to the court what types of terms you would like included in the order. The pertinent terms may vary depending on a number of factors, including the nature of the abuse you have faced and your living situation. Remedies set out by statute which may be available in a protection order include: 

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Will County family law attorneyOrders of Protection can be great tools for helping you keep yourself and your children safe during a divorce. However, what these orders can and cannot do is not always well-understood. Some people—women particularly—refrain from getting a protection order even though they are eligible for one, often due to misconceptions about how they work. While protection orders are civil, rather than criminal, your spouse can be arrested if they violate one. This is often enough of a deterrent to keep domestic violence offenders away from their victims.

However, civil protection orders should not be used as tools of manipulation during an ongoing divorce. If you are in need of protection from a violent spouse, you should urgently speak with your divorce lawyer so they can get the ball rolling. 

What a Civil Order of Protection Can Do

A few of the most important things that a civil protection order can accomplish include:

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IL family lawyerOn average, it takes victims of domestic violence or spousal abuse seven attempts to leave the abuser before they finally succeed. The reasons that so many women - and sometimes men - stay in abusive and dangerous relationships are complex. Abusers often isolate their victims from others who could help them and create a situation where the victim is financially dependent on the abuser. Others stay because the abuser has threatened to harm them or their children should they leave. If this is the situation you are in, you should know that there is a way out. If you are ready to seek a divorce and a safe exit from your abusive marriage, there are steps an attorney can take to help protect you. The Foray Firm is committed to helping people who are facing spousal abuse stay safe during and after the divorce process.

What if I am Financially Dependent on My Abusive Spouse?

In Illinois, as soon as you file for divorce, your attorney can seek a temporary spousal maintenance order. In situations where a financially dependent spouse is seeking to leave an abusive marriage, these orders are typically granted. Your spouse can be ordered to continue supporting you financially as you leave.

Staying Safe When Leaving an Abusive Spouse

No one deserves to be trapped in an abusive marriage. Domestic violence is always the offender's fault and never the victim's. Leaving an abusive marriage can be very scary. When you are ready to take this brave step towards building a new life for yourself, there are some steps you and your attorney can take to keep you safe. Ways to stay safer include:

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IL family lawyerDomestic violence can happen to anyone. Domestic abuse reflects negatively only on the abuser, never the victim. You might feel trapped in your marriage or relationship because you share children with the abuser, or you are married to them, or even because they have taken steps to unlawfully restrict your liberty. Others feel they have to stay because they are financially dependent on the abuser. Whatever is keeping you trapped in your dangerous relationship, there is a way out. If you are one of the millions of people who will experience violence at home this year, there are steps a lawyer can take to help you get out safely. Whether you need a divorce or are concerned about the safety of your children, there are likely ways that a family law attorney can help.

How Does Illinois Family Law Protect Family Violence Victims?

When you are ready to safely exit your abusive relationship, here are some protections that may be available to you:

  • Protection orders - A lot of people are afraid to exit their relationships because they have nowhere else to go. A protective order can force the abuser to immediately leave your home, no matter whose name it is in. These orders also prevent the abuser from interfering with your housing or utilities or contacting you. It can also give you temporary emergency custody of your children and order the abuser to pay child support.
  • Domestic violence affects custody - If you have children in common with your abuser, you should know that a family law court will consider domestic violence when deciding on child custody concerns. Courts put the safety and wellbeing of the children first and foremost and will be reluctant to allow someone with a history of violence to spend unsupervised time with children.
  • Public resources - There are community resources available to those who are fleeing domestic violence. A family law attorney can help connect you to these resources so that you and your children’s needs can be met in the abuser’s absence.
  • Defining domestic violence - The legal definition of domestic violence in Illinois is not limited to simple physical abuse, although that is certainly included in the definition. If your partner threatens or harasses you, or interferes with your personal freedom - like by preventing you from leaving or blocking you from exiting the home - courts will look at these behaviors as a form of domestic violence.

Keep in mind that domestic violence almost never gets better - it only escalates. The sooner you are out, the better.

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