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How Can I Protect Myself and My Family From an Abusive Spouse During Divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2023 | Divorce

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 defines domestic violence as an act of abuse (harassment, physical abuse, wilful deprivation, intimidation of a dependent, or interference with personal liberty) that is perpetrated against a family or household member. Since 2019, domestic violence cases have increased, leaving many people wondering how they can legally protect themselves and their families. Domestic violence is a serious crime that produces family disharmony and affects healthy childhood development. If you are a victim of domestic abuse and are filing for a divorce, an attorney can help get you the protection you need and show you how abuse can impact your divorce case.

The Varying Forms Of Abuse

There are many different forms of abuse used to control and manipulate victims. And not all of them are physically visible. Recognizing signs of abuse is an important step to filing for divorce against an abusive spouse.

Physical Abuse – Physical abuse is any act of physical violence intended to injure or endanger someone. This can be anything from choking, punching, slapping, pinching, hair pulling, force-feeding drugs or alcohol, and even threatening and hurting your children. Physical abuse is still abuse, even when it does not cause serious harm. Minor violence that does not leave major damage to your physical form, is still abuse.

Sexual Abuse – Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual activity forced or persuaded onto someone. Even if this is a spouse that someone had consensual sexual intercourse in the past, sexual abuse can still occur. This includes not only forcing sexual activity against someone’s wishes, but unconsented physical abuse during sex, lying about the method of birth control or removing birth control during sex, pressuring sex after the person has declined or given reason to believe they are not interested, and controlling decisions surrounding the birth control method.

Emotional Abuse – Emotional abuse at times can be difficult to identify and is often used to manipulate, gaslight, and confuse the victim. This form of domestic abuse might not be clear to the physical eye but is just as dangerous. This can include something as simple as name calling or insulting physical appearance, accusations of cheating, or making the victim believe they are the abuser. Psychologically making the victim believe that they deserve this treatment and are the one who is in the wrong.

Getting an Order of Protection

If you are experiencing any abuse from a spouse, it might be helpful to work alongside an attorney and file a petition for an order of protection. An order of protection is a restraining order that restricts a spouse from doing and having certain things and can help protect yourself and your family from an abusive spouse.

In the state of Illinois, an order of protection may require the abuser to:

  • Stay away from your children
  • Stay away from your house, work, and children’s school
  • Attend counseling
  • Appear in court
  • Pay child support
  • Surrender any weapons
  • Stop all further abuse
  • Refrain from accessing any of the child’s school or medical records
  • Refrain from taking a child out of state

Violating an order of protection is a Class A misdemeanor, and if violated a person could be sentenced to up to 346 days in jail and pay a fine of $25. A second violation is a felony punishable by 24 hours of jail time and a $100 domestic violence fine.

Contact a Chicago, IL Divorce Lawyer

If you or a loved one are experiencing abuse from a spouse or person, you do not need to go through this alone. Contact our Chicago, IL divorce and family law attorneys for help securing an order of protection and handling divorce issues like property division and child custody. Contact NextLevel Law, P.C. by Daniel R. Hernandez, Esq. today and call 312-442-2225 to schedule a free consultation.