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St. Charles domestic violence attorneyFew people expect that they will need to protect themselves from a romantic partner. However, one out of four women and one out of nine men experience domestic violence, accounting for 15 percent of all violent crimes. Victims of domestic violence can take steps to escape an abusive situation by seeking help from an attorney and filing for an order of protection from their partner or spouse. However, even after escaping domestic abuse, many people struggle to move on and rebuild their lives.

What Is an Order of Protection?

An order of protection is a court-issued directive that provides legal protection for victims of domestic violence, abuse, or stalking. An order of protection can include a variety of requirements, including an order to stop the abuse, limits on contact between an abuser and his or her victims, and a requirement for the abuser to move out of a shared home. Having an order of protection in place can provide safety, and an alleged abuser can face serious consequences, including criminal charges, for violating the order. Police will take any domestic calls very seriously when a person has an order of protection in place.

Adjusting to Changes in Your Life

An order of protection can be crucial for ensuring a person’s safety in the short-term, but survivors of domestic violence or abuse often take time to cope with the long-term effects on their lives. The healing process is gradual and unique to each individual, but these suggestions can help you on the path toward building a happier and healthier life for yourself:

St. Charles domestic violence protection attorneyDid you know that, on average, 24 people per minute are victimized by physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States? This amounts to more than 12 million women and men each year. It is estimated that one in three women and one in four men in this country will be a victim of domestic violence at some point in their lives. In addition, 75 percent of domestic violence victims have children living in the home with them. Efforts have been made to provide better protections from domestic violence, but there is still work to be done.

Domestic Violence Can Leave Victims Paralyzed by Fear

Domestic violence involves complex psychological effects for the women and men who experience it. In many cases, victims do not want their abuser arrested and jailed, they only want the abuse to stop. Fearing that involving law enforcement will upset their lives too much, many victims suffer in silence for years, not sharing with anyone the abuse they have been forced to endure. Orders of protection can be issued to keep abusers away from victims, but victims need to be able to depend on police departments and the court system to uphold those orders.

A Changing Culture

Thankfully, society has changed its attitudes about domestic violence over the last few decades. According to a 1987 survey, 50 percent of Americans thought it was acceptable for a husband to beat his wife with a belt. Ten years later, almost 90 percent said it was wrong—a percentage that largely holds to this day.

How to Stop Harassment During Your DivorceGetting a divorce can cause uncomfortable interactions between you and your spouse. That behavior sometimes escalates to the point of harassment from your spouse. Fortunately, you can file for an order of protection against your spouse if they are continually harassing you. How do you know when your spouse’s behavior qualifies as harassment? You should explain your spouse’s behavior in detail to your divorce attorney, who can advise you on whether a court order could stop that behavior and what you need to do in order to receive that order.

Harassment in Divorce

Illinois defines harassment as conduct that knowingly and unnecessarily causes a reasonable person to feel distressed. Harassment in a divorce is usually verbal abuse made in person or via electronic communication. Common examples include:

  • Making offensive or obscene comments to you
  • Repeatedly contacting you by telephone or email for the purpose of disturbing you
  • Making derogatory comments about you in a public forum such as social media

Harassment is a misdemeanor offense in Illinois, but the offender’s actions can rise to the level of a felony. For instance, your spouse could be charged with stalking if they are following you in person or electronically in order to harass you. Making a threat against you that causes you to reasonably fear for your safety could be assault.

Posted on in Divorce

How I-Pass Data Can Be Used During DivorceMany drivers have an E-ZPass – known as an I-Pass in Illinois – registered to their vehicle. The transponder is convenient for passing through tolls without having to stop and throw in coins in a toll booth. Most drivers do not think about how the transponder can track their movements based on the toll roads they use. The Illinois Tollway keeps that information private but can be forced to share information on individual vehicles when they receive subpoenas. Law enforcement officials are the ones who most often subpoena I-Pass records for evidence of criminal activity. You may be surprised to learn that I-Pass records are also used in some divorce and family law cases.

Scenario

Let us say that you are paying spousal maintenance to your ex, who was unemployed at the time of the agreement. You have reason to believe that your former spouse has started a job, which would allow you to modify your maintenance payments. Your former spouse denies that they have a job to avoid any reduction in maintenance. As part of your evidence gathering, you could file a subpoena for your former spouse’s I-Pass records, which may show that they are passing through tolls at times that are consistent with going to and from a job. I-Pass records have also been used as evidence that a former spouse is cohabiting with a new romantic partner, which may allow the termination of spousal maintenance.

Privacy Concerns

Though you may not like the idea of the Illinois Tollway holding a digital record of your travel history, most people do not have anything important to hide if the record was released to a former spouse. However, WBEZ recently aired a story about how a man was able to circumvent an order of protection by filing a subpoena for his ex-girlfriend’s I-Pass records. The woman, who had a daughter with the man, received an order of protection to prevent the man from harassing her through frequent phone calls, letters to her home, and requests for police to conduct wellness checks on their daughter. The man filed a subpoena for the woman’s I-Pass records without her knowledge. The court approved the subpoena, which allowed the man to obtain:

Keys to Understanding, Enforcing Your Order of ProtectionOrders of protection exist to shield victims from their domestic abusers and help them establish independence. Escaping an abuser is not always as simple as leaving them. The victim may be worried about:

  • Where they will live;
  • How they can protect their children;
  • How they can support themselves; and
  • How they can prevent their abuser from retaliating against them.

An order of protection can solve these problems. The abuser can be required to leave the victim’s residence and stay away while the order is active. The children will stay with the victim and may have limited visits with the abuser if the court determines it to be safe. The court can require the abuser to pay child support and other expenses. However, an order of protection is effective only if it is being enforced. You must understand what your order can do and how you should respond if you suspect your abuser is violating the order.

Terms of the Order

Orders of protection in Illinois offer 17 remedies to be used against the alleged abuser, who is also called the respondent. The remedies include all of the benefits mentioned above, as well as others that may apply in specific situations. You must select the remedies you wish to use in the order. Overlooking a remedy could leave you vulnerable in ways that you are not expecting.

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