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DuPage County divorce lawyer for stalking and harassmentDivorce can sometimes bring out the worst in people. In some cases, a resentful spouse may resort to stalking or harassing their spouse in an attempt to get their attention or intimidate them into meeting divorce-related demands. Stalking can include repeatedly showing up at the spouse’s home, school, or workplace, or it may involve repeatedly contacting the spouse over the phone or via text messages, email, or social media. Whether you have been a victim of abuse, stalking, or another form of domestic violence, you should know that you have several options under Illinois law that can help keep you and your loved ones safe.  

What Constitutes Stalking?

Stalking is typically defined as knowingly and repeatedly harassing another person with the intent to cause him or her harm or fear of being harmed. This may include following the victim from place to place, remaining outside the victim’s home for long periods of time, or showing up at places that the victim is likely to be with the intent of scaring him or her. Stalking may also include contacting or monitoring someone through a smartphone, computer, GPS system, or another electronic device. This so-called “cyberstalking” can be just as emotionally distressing as physical harassment. Some stalking victims may worry that they are overreacting to their spouse’s behavior. However, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry. If your spouse’s actions make you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, family members, or pets, you need to take action right away.

Obtaining an Order of Protection

Orders of protection, which are sometimes called restraining orders, are legally enforceable court orders that prohibit someone from harassing or abusing another person. An Emergency Order of Protection can often be obtained immediately if a person fears for their safety. These orders may include several different provisions, including but not limited to:

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Wheaton, IL order of protection defense lawyerThe National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that one in every four U.S. women and one in every seven U.S. men have experienced domestic violence. Physical abuse, psychological manipulation, financial exploitation, and other forms of abuse exist within many families. Sadly, some people choose to use false accusations of domestic violence or abuse in an attempt to influence family law cases. Whether it is a divorce, child custody dispute, or another family law matter, allegations of abuse will likely have a major impact on the outcome of the case. If you have been accused of abusing a family member, there are several actions you should take immediately.

Gather Evidence and Witnesses That Support Your Side of the Story

One of the first things you should do if you are accused of abuse is to obtain any evidence that can help prove that the accusations are untrue. This may include things like text messages, voicemails, emails, letters, and other correspondence. Also, start thinking of witnesses who can corroborate your side of the story during any legal proceedings. Witnesses who are willing to testify about your character can be extremely beneficial to your case.

Consider Requesting a Guardian Ad Litem

A guardian ad litem (GAL) is a lawyer who may be assigned to a family law case involving children. He or she does not represent either party in the dispute, but instead advocates for the children’s best interests. The GAL may visit each parent’s home and conduct interviews with parents, teachers, doctors, family members, and the children themselves in order to form an educated opinion about what is best for the children. The GAL then makes a recommendation to the court about what case outcome he or she thinks will protect the children’s best interests.

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DuPage County divorce mediation lawyerIn previous blogs, we have discussed the many advantages of divorce mediation. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method that is much less stressful and expensive than court litigation. When a couple disagrees about child custody, spousal maintenance, or other terms of their divorce, mediation can help them reach an agreement that works for both parties. However, mediation is not right for every divorcing couple. A qualified divorce attorney can help you decide whether or not mediation will be in your best interests while working to protect your rights throughout the divorce process.

Marriages Involving Domestic Violence or Abuse

The main element of any abusive relationship is an imbalance of power. An abusive spouse may use physical violence, threats of harm, intimidation, gaslighting, and other tactics to maintain power and control over his or her victim. It is important to note that domestic violence does not only include physical abuse. It can also involve financial abuse, emotional or verbal abuse, and sexual abuse. If a person is leaving an abusive marriage, divorce mediation is rarely recommended, because the imbalance of power makes a cooperative mediation process virtually impossible.

Divorce Involving Financial Fraud

Many divorce issues discussed during mediation involve finances. In order for spouses to negotiate the terms of their divorce, both spouses must be transparent and honest about the assets they own, the income they earn, and the debts they owe. If a spouse is hiding assets or lying about income, property, or debts, mediation may be a waste of time. Some spouses may even dissipate, or waste, marital assets prior to divorce by spending money on an affair, drug or alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, or for other reasons. If you have reason to believe that your spouse is lying about their finances or has dissipated marital assets, you should contact an attorney right away.

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DuPage County order of protection attorneyAccording to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an astounding 10 million men and women are victims of intimate partner abuse every year in the United States. Data shows that about 20 people per minute are abused by a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse in the U.S. Anyone who has been a victim of domestic violence knows just how terrifying and overwhelming the experience can be. Domestic violence or abuse can also have a tremendous impact on divorce proceedings. If you are considering divorce, and you have been mentally, emotionally, or physically abused by your spouse, there are several issues you need to be aware of.

Negotiation and Mediation May Not Be Appropriate in Situations Involving Domestic Abuse

Generally, couples getting divorced are encouraged to work out issues related to child custody, property division, and spousal support on their own or with help from a qualified mediator. However, when there is an imbalance of power between the spouses or a history of domestic violence, this may not be appropriate or even possible. It is highly encouraged that you speak with an experienced family law attorney if you are getting divorced and have been abused by your partner. Your attorney can help you understand your legal options and choose the course of action which is best for your unique situation. If you worry about the effect that your partner’s abuse has or will have on your children, your lawyer can also help you determine the steps you can take to protect your children’s safety, including requesting sole custody or requiring that your ex-spouse’s parenting time be supervised.

An Order of Protection May Help

Your safety and the safety of your children should be your top priority if you are planning to leave an abusive relationship. If you have reason to believe that your spouse will harm you in any way during the transition, you may want to consider getting an order of protection. There are three types of protection orders available in Illinois: an emergency order of protection (EOP), an interim order of protection, and a plenary order of protection. An EOP can be obtained at your local county courthouse and can remain in effect for 14 – 21 days. You will not need to notify your spouse if you get an EOP. This emergency order may require your abuser to stay a certain distance away from you and/or your children as well as your place of work, school, and your residence. A hearing will be held to determine whether a plenary order of protection should be issued to provide more permanent protection.

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Wheaton, IL order of protection lawyer

Divorce can be a difficult process, but if you are in an abusive relationship, it may be a necessary one. Unfortunately, abusive relationships often involve manipulation, and sometimes the person who is being abused does not realize they are a victim. Those who are experiencing difficulties in their relationship should be sure to recognize the signs of abuse and learn about their options for escaping an abusive situation.

What Defines an Abusive Relationship?

Not all abusive relationships are physically violent. These relationships typically involve one partner taking control or power over the other. This control can be expressed through physical violence, verbal abuse, and/or manipulative behavior. Mind games, threats, gaslighting, coercion, and intimidation are all common traits of manipulative behavior. Domestic violence can result in physical harm to a spouse or their children, but abuse can cause a great deal of emotional and psychological harm as well.

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