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DuPage County domestic abuse attorney order of protection

Domestic abuse or intimate partner violence affects millions of people across the country, including in the state of Illinois. According to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in seven men are victims of domestic violence. Physical abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, or stalking can make a person feel as if his or her own home is a prison. If you have been the victim of domestic violence, one option you may want to consider is an emergency order of protection (EOP). Sometimes called restraining orders, EOPs are legally enforceable court orders that require an alleged abuser to cease abusive and harassing behaviors. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help you through the legal process of obtaining this important document. 

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is abuse involving a past or current family member, household member, romantic partner, spouse or ex-spouse, or someone who is the parent of the alleged victim’s child. Many alleged abusers use manipulation, intimidation, threats, and physical violence to control their alleged victims. This may include pushing, hitting, strangling, and other physical violence as well as harassment such as repeatedly following the victim. An abuser may attempt to weaken the victim’s independence and convince the victim that the abuse is somehow his or her fault. No one should have to tolerate this type of treatment. Fortunately, there are legal remedies available in Illinois that can help protect victims of domestic violence.

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DuPage County child custody attorneyIn Illinois family law cases, the terms “child custody” and “visitation” are not referred to as “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” When divorcing parents cannot agree on an arrangement for dividing parental responsibilities and parenting time, the court may need to intervene. Custody-related legal proceedings can be stressful for both the parents and the children. If you are in a legal dispute with your child’s other parent, you may have concerns about your child’s involvement in the case. Child testimonies are sometimes, but not always, used in Illinois child custody disputes. Fortunately, Illinois courts have several methods for conducting child interviews in a way that minimizes the stress on the child.

Will My Child Be Put on the Witness Stand?

If you and your child’s other parent cannot agree upon a parenting arrangement, a judge will be tasked with making a custody determination that serves the child’s best interests. You may wonder whether this means that your child will be forced to testify in court. Typically, children are not required to testify in court; however, the judge may use a child interview to gather information regarding a custody case. 

Because court hearings can be very overwhelming and frightening for children, Illinois courts do everything possible to gather children’s testimonies in a child-friendly way. Rarely are children placed on the witness stand. If the judge wishes to hear the child’s testimony in a custody case, he or she will most likely speak to the child privately in the judge's chambers. The judge may ask the child questions about his or her thoughts, feelings, and preferences. Unless otherwise agreed upon, the parents’ respective attorneys will typically be present for the child interview. A court reporter will transcribe the child’s testimony word-for-word so that this testimony can be used in future child custody hearings.

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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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Wheaton family law attorney for prenupsPrenuptial agreements are legally binding documents that establish and protect spouses’ property rights, and they may also address spousal maintenance and other matters. Because many of the provisions in a prenuptial agreement only become effective if a couple divorces, prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” are somewhat controversial. However, research shows that the popularity of prenups has been rising, especially among the millennial generation. Prenuptial agreements offer a range of benefits, but they may not be right for every engaged couple.

Rights and Responsibilities Addressed by Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that lists each party’s property and specifies the parties’ property rights in the event that the marriage ends. When a couple sits down to draft a prenuptial agreement, they will need to list all of the assets and debts that they currently own. Many couples find that this inventory process is beneficial in itself because it starts the marriage off with a degree of financial transparency and honesty that is absent in many relationships. 

A prenuptial agreement can be used to differentiate between marital and nonmarital property, identify how certain assets should be divided if the marriage ends in divorce, establish which debts belong to which party, address inheritance rights, make decisions about spousal maintenance, and more. By discussing these issues before getting married, engaged couples ensure that they are on the same page with regard to their finances and property. Furthermore, if the couple ends up divorcing, many of the divorce issues that will need to be resolved will already have been decided.

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Wheaton, IL divorce lawyer for order of protection defenseDomestic violence is taken very seriously in Illinois, and victims of abuse can protect their safety and that of their children or other family members by obtaining an order of protection. An emergency order of protection (EOP) can be granted to a person based on his or her testimony alone, and it goes into effect immediately. The respondent (the subject of the order of protection) does not need to be present in order for the petitioner to be granted an EOP. An EOP lasts up to 21 days and typically prohibits the respondent from contacting or coming within a certain distance of the petitioner. A restraining order may also prohibit the respondent from seeing or contacting his or her children, and it may require him or her to surrender any firearms. If you are the subject of a protection order during divorce, there are several crucial steps you should take.

Follow the Directions Contained in the Order of Protection

Restraining orders offer important protections to actual victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, an order of protection may be obtained by a petitioner who does not actually need protection. A bitter spouse may get an order of protection during a contentious divorce in an attempt to gain an advantage during divorce proceedings – especially those involving child custody. Even if the order of protection your spouse obtained against you was based on false allegations, it is essential to follow the directions contained in the order. Do not confront your spouse or violate other terms of the order. Instead, contact an attorney immediately to determine your best options for defending against the accusations and protecting your rights.

Attend the Plenary Hearing to Tell Your Side of the Story

If your spouse wants to extend the protection period after the EOP expires, he or she will need to attend a court hearing and request a more permanent type of order called a plenary order of protection. The plenary hearing is your opportunity to defend yourself against your spouse’s accusations. When preparing for this hearing, you will want to gather evidence such as text messages, call logs, and documents that support your testimony. Find witnesses who can confirm your side of the story and are willing to testify in court. Your attorney will use witness testimony and other evidence to argue on your behalf during the hearing.

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