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How Does Domestic Violence Change the Divorce Process in Illinois? 

Posted on in Divorce

wheaton divorce lawyerIllinois courts prefer couples to work together and resolve issues in their divorces without extensive trial litigation. Mediation and collaborative divorce can be helpful ways to do this, but they are not effective for everyone. This is especially true if one spouse is the victim of domestic violence. Domestic violence is tragically still present to a substantial degree in Illinois, and for many families, Covid made the situation worse. Domestic violence-related issues in divorce, including physical violence, threats, and manipulation, usually cannot be handled with mediation, and require the help of an Illinois family court. 

Am I in an Abusive Relationship? 

Domestic violence can take many different forms, but it can affect anyone. Common types of domestic abuse include: 

  • Sexual or reproductive abuse - Sexual abuse in a marriage takes place when one spouse forces the other to participate in unwanted, dangerous, or humiliating sexual behavior. This can happen concurrently with consensual sex, which can complicate the feelings of the victim. Some spouses will also manipulate the use of birth control to compel the other spouse to have a child without their consent. 

  • Physical abuse - This is the most commonly known form of physical violence. Of course, physical abuse can include slapping, hitting, and choking, but it also includes threats of violence, forced use of drugs or alcohol, and hurting children in an attempt to control the victimized spouse. 

  • Emotional abuse - Domestic abuse can happen even though nobody has ever been physically violated. Gaslighting, relentless teasing, belittling, and stalking are all symptoms of emotional abuse. 

Orders of Protection

If you have been a victim of any of these types of abuse, your attorney can help you file an order of protection to keep your abuser away from you and your children. You can even file an order of protection by yourself, but it must be done correctly for it to be legally enforceable. 

Emergency Orders of Protection can be enforced immediately and will last for three weeks, giving many victims of abuse enough time to get to a safe place. After the Emergency Order of Protection Expires, it can be extended in a hearing where both partners are required to be present. 

How Does Domestic Violence Affect Parenting Issues in a Divorce? 

Parental responsibilities and parenting time are almost always difficult issues to resolve, but having an abusive or manipulative spouse can make this much worse. But Illinois courts always put the children’s best interests first, and this means placing restrictions on a parent’s access to children if spending time with that parent would endanger the children in any way. 

If the domestic violence is pervasive and long-lasting, a judge may go so far as to terminate the abusive parent’s parental rights, meaning he or she will no longer have any right to make decisions for, or have access to, the children. Judges can consider a wide variety of evidence to make their decisions. 

Work with a Wheaton, IL Divorce Lawyer

If you are a victim of domestic violence and fear that filing for divorce could put you in an even worse situation, a compassionate and experienced DuPage County divorce attorney at The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. can help you create an exit plan that keeps you and your children safe. We will work with you in a discreet manner that meets your privacy concerns and advocate passionately on your behalf. Call us today to schedule a confidential consultation at 630-462-9500




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