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Obtaining an Order of Protection Before Your DivorceAn abusive marriage is a horrible situation to live in but difficult for some victims to leave. There is a fear of how your spouse will respond when they discover that you are leaving. You may also worry about your ability to financially support yourself – both immediately after leaving your spouse and permanently if you divorce. Rather than leaving at the spur of a moment, it is better to plan ahead if you are not in immediate danger. Illinois offers several resources for domestic abuse victims, including an order of protection.

What Is an Order of Protection?

Also known as a restraining order, an order of protection is a court-issued document that prohibits an alleged abuser from contacting or harassing the victim. The definition of abuse in Illinois includes physical violence and psychological harassment and intimidation. You must fill out a form requesting your order of protection against your abuser, including:

  • Past incidents of abuse
  • Whether you previously contacted the police
  • Whether there were any witnesses to the abuse
  • Why you need an order of protection against your abuser

If the court believes that your allegations are credible, it will issue an emergency order of protection, which will go into effect immediately and last for three weeks. In that time, you can file for a plenary order of protection that would last for two years. During the hearing for the plenary order, the alleged abuser will have a chance to respond to the accusations. A court can also issue an interim order of protection for 30 days if the emergency order is going to expire before it can rule on the plenary order.

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Fault Most Important During Divorce SettlementIllinois has largely removed the consideration of fault by either party from the divorce process. Because Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, a spouse may only cite irreconcilable differences when filing for divorce. Though infidelity or abuse can cause divorce, divorce courts are not concerned with them when determining whether to grant a dissolution of marriage. It is a spouse’s desire to divorce that is important, not the reason for it. However, some accusations of fault remain relevant when a court creates the terms of a divorce agreement. The court may consider illegal or immoral behavior by one spouse when deciding to compensate or protect the other spouse.

Property Division

Illinois divorce law instructs courts to equitably divide marital properties between two spouses. Equitable is different than equal because it means the courts are not required to be exactly even when dividing properties. Courts can start from equal and use their judgment to determine what would be a fair share of properties. Acts of fault that include financial impropriety are part of the court’s reasoning process. For instance, a spouse having an affair often buys gifts for his or her affair partner. A court may financially compensate the victim spouse during the division of property if the cheating spouse used marital properties to purchase the gifts.

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