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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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IL family lawyerGuns are powerful tools that can be used for many different purposes. Unfortunately, sometimes individuals living in Illinois use firearms to threaten, hurt, or intimidate family members and intimate partners in terrifying acts of domestic violence. People using firearms unsafely may even be a threat to themselves. When misuse of firearms becomes serious enough that gun violence may be an imminent threat, a Firearms Restraining Order (FRO) is a type of order of protection that is available in Illinois.

What Is a Firearms Restraining Order?

Illinois enacted a law beginning January 1st, 2019, called the Firearms Restraining Order Act. This act allows someone’s family, parents, roommates, or anyone else who lives in the same house to petition for a court order prohibiting that person from owning or buying guns for up to six months. Law enforcement can also petition for a FRO.

Unfortunately, after many fatal shooting incidents, family members and friends of the shooter have often observed warning signs from the perpetrator that they might harm themselves or others. Although it is hard to believe that someone you know and love could do such a thing, acts of gun violence happen every day, and missing the signs can have tragic consequences. Here are common warning signs that someone may be in crisis:

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Il family lawyerIn our last blog post, we discussed Orders of Protection in Illinois and how they can be obtained. Orders of Protection are meant to keep victims and abusers separate when they share or have shared a domestic relationship. But not all victims are in domestic relationships, and in these cases, other help may be necessary.

Fortunately, there are other types of protection that victims can obtain from an Illinois court. “Civil no-contact orders” protect victims of “nonconsensual sexual conduct” who want their abuser to be prohibited from contacting them. If you feel you are in danger of harm, whether psychological or physical, a civil no-contact order may be helpful to you.

Who Can Get a Civil No-Contact Order?

The purpose of a civil no-contact order is to protect victims of sexual assault. According to Illinois law, this includes any nonconsensual sexual conduct or sexual penetration. Civil no-contact orders can protect more than just the victim - her children, parents, current partner, and other household members can also be included in the petition so the abuser cannot contact them or harass the victim through other people. Parents can also obtain civil no-contact orders on behalf of a minor child.

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