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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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IL family lawyerVictims of domestic violence in Illinois face a difficult set of choices. Because many victims fear that they may face retaliation if they seek legal help, it can feel as though they are in the impossible dilemma of trying to fix a problem only to risk it getting worse. But if you feel stuck in an abusive situation where you are enduring emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, you likely already know that you do not want to live with it forever. Fortunately, there is help available: you can file for an order of protection in Will County today.

First, Make Sure You Are Safe

Statistics show that victims of domestic violence are most likely to be attacked if they try to leave their abuser or get help. It is important to make sure that you have a plan or a place to go if you are afraid for your safety. You may not be able to control your abuser’s behavior, but you can resolve to put yourself and your children in a safe place. Once you are ready, you can file for an order of protection at any time - even at night or over the weekend when the court is closed.

Complete the Order of Protection Forms

Three important forms are required to apply for an order of protection:

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IL family lawyerDomestic violence and abuse can take many different forms. Abusers often use intimidation and psychological manipulation to control their victims. Sometimes, this takes the form of stalking. If you have been the victim of stalking, you know just how frightening it can be. Stalking is considered a criminal offense in Illinois. If you have been the victim of stalking during a divorce or other family law issue, you should know that there are certain legal protections available to you. A “Stalking No Contact Order” is a legally enforceable court order that prohibits a stalker from contacting or coming near the victim.

What Does Illinois Law Consider Stalking?

Stalking is defined by Illinois law as repeatedly contacting or following someone in such a way that the person fears for their safety or the safety of someone else and makes the person suffer emotional distress.

Stalking may involve repeatedly:

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