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How Domestic Violence Affects Divorce Settlements

Posted on in Domestic Violence

How Domestic Violence Affects Divorce SettlementsDomestic violence between spouses can lead to or result from divorce. A person may choose to end his or her marriage because his or her spouse is abusive. In other cases, asking for a divorce may trigger a spouse’s threatening behavior. Either way, domestic violence changes how a divorce is settled. The divorce court will likely favor the victim in matters of allocation of parental responsibilities and division of property.

Order of Protection

With any case of domestic violence, the victim’s first responsibility is to protect him or herself, as well as other victims. A victim spouse should immediately seek an order of protection against the abusive spouse. The order includes several benefits for the victim spouse, such as:

  • Forcing the abuser to leave the marital home;
  • Prohibiting physical or electronic contact with the victims; and
  • Requiring child support payments.

First, the victim needs to file an emergency order of protection, which goes into immediate effect and lasts up to 21 days. The purpose of the emergency order is to protect the victim until a trial is held to determine whether a more permanent order of protection is needed.

Parenting Issues

Domestic violence accusations can significantly affect the allocation of parental responsibilities. During a divorce, both parents are presumed to have a right to parenting time with their children. However, a court will break that presumption if it believes one of the parents is a threat to the children. In the most severe cases, a court may prevent the abusive parent from interacting with the children or terminate his or her parental rights. The court can also allow the parent to have limited contact with the children, such as supervised visits and electronic communications.

Division of Property

Domestic violence accusations have a more subtle effect on the division of property. Spouses normally negotiate how they will divide their marital properties during a divorce. Negotiations may not be feasible if one spouse has an order of protection against the other. When spouses cannot agree on the division of property, the court will decide for them. Illinois law does not include domestic violence as a factor that courts should consider when determining the division of property. However, a court has discretion in deciding how to split the properties. The domestic violence accusation may be a tiebreaker in the victim’s favor when the court is unsure which spouse should receive a property.

Domestic Violence and Divorce

Facing threats of domestic violence compounds the stress of going through a divorce. A Kane County family law attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you with both your domestic violence and divorce needs. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.


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