Ending a marriage is difficult in any circumstance. However, ending a relationship with someone who has physically, emotionally, mentally, or financially abused you may seem impossible. If you have been a victim of domestic violence at the hands of your spouse, you should know that there are legal protections available to you during your divorce. An Emergency Order of Protection is similar to a restraining order and may offer you, your children, and even your pets the legal protection you need when leaving an abusive spouse.
Domestic Violence Often Escalates When a Victim Tries to Leave
Most abusive relationships follow a similar pattern. At the beginning of the relationship, the abuser is generous and kind. However, as the relationship progresses, he or she becomes more demanding and controlling. This control often evolves into physical violence or psychological manipulation. Many abusers become enraged when their victim tries to end the relationship or leave their shared home. In fact, The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that 75 percent of injuries caused by domestic violence occur when a victim tries to leave the relationship. If you are thinking about leaving your abusive spouse, having a plan in place to protect yourself is crucial.
Obtaining an Emergency Order of Protection
In Illinois, an Emergency Order of Protection may be granted on an “ex parte” basis. This means that the subject of the protection order, or “respondent,” does not need to be present or even aware of the protection order for a judge to grant it. An Emergency Order of Protection (EOP) is a legal court order that prohibits an abusive person from threatening, harassing, or abusing the person who requested the order, or “petitioner.” An EOP may prevent the respondent from coming within a certain distance of the petitioner, his or her children, or his or her home, work, or school. An EOP may also require the respondent to surrender any firearms or move out of the marital home. If the respondent violates any of the terms of the EOP, he or she faces immediate arrest and criminal charges. If you are afraid that your spouse will become violent when you tell him or her that you want a divorce, an EOP can provide legal protection against retaliation. An EOP is also an important step in creating a record of your spouse’s abusive or threatening behaviors. The EOP or any violations of the EOP may be valuable sources of evidence during child custody decisions and other aspects of the divorce process.