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How does domestic violence affect divorce?

Domestic violence is a factor in many divorces. In the Rockford area and across the country, many women, as well as some men, are physically abused. Overall, the statistics are startling. Nationally, an estimated 25 percent of women are affected by domestic violence at some point in their lives. That's one woman in every four.

Sometimes, the level of violence is such that an order of protection may be in order. Orders of protection are court orders that impose certain restraints or obligations. Such orders may direct one party to have no contact with the other or to stay away from certain specific locations. For that reason, they are often called restraining orders.

Though protection orders are a civil law action, violating them can result in criminal prosecution. In Illinois, a first violation is a misdemeanor that can lead to a jail sentence. A second violation can be a felony.

What effect does domestic violence have on the dynamics of divorce and the practical steps needed to legally end a marriage?

Obviously when allegations of abuse are involved, the emotional nature of divorce proceedings is often heightened. It can be difficult for an abused spouse to pull away from the control of an abusive partner.

Even in cases of abuse, however, it is important to take many of the same financial steps that are necessary in most divorce cases. If you have shared all of your financial information with a spouse whom you are now divorcing, it's time to get your own accounts and make a plan to move forward financially.

What form this plan will take depends entirely on individual circumstances. In some cases, it could mean transferring all of your own assets into separate accounts. In others, it could mean asking relatives for a loan to get you through, until there is a divorce property settlement.

Source: "For Divorcing Women In Abusive Relationships, Knowledge Is Power," Huffington Post, Jeffrey A. Landers, 11-21-12

Additional source: "Illinois Domestic Violence Act," Illinois Attorney General

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