Recently, the news and social media outlets have been inundated with domestic violence headlines
including allegations against Johnny Depp, the arrest of Sacramento Kings basketball player, Darren Collison, and the conviction of television actor, Michael Jace. From athletes and entertainers to the “average Joe,” domestic violence (including physical, emotional or sexual abuse) impacts thousands of families each year, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. While the protection for victims has not changed, the following information bears repeating as a reminder that help is available:
In Illinois, domestic violence is a crime. Any person who hits, chokes, kicks, threatens, harasses, or interferes with the personal liberty of another family or household member, has broken Illinois’ domestic violence law. Under Illinois law, “family” or “household members” are defined as: family members related by blood, people who are married or used to be married, people who share or used to share a residence (i.e. home, apartment or other common dwelling), people who have a child in common, people who are dating and people with disabilities including their personal assistants. See, 750 ILCS 60/101 et. al.
There are options and resources available to victims of domestic violence including, but not limited to, an Order of Protection and exclusive possession of a residence.
A. Order of Protection: An Order of Protection is a court order which restricts someone who has abused a family or household member. An Order of Protection may prohibit the abuser from continuing threats and abuse, order the abuser to stay away from the victim and other persons protected by the order, prohibit the abuser from taking or hiding children, order temporary residential custody, require the abuser to attend counseling, require the abuser to turn over weapons to local law enforcement and/or prohibit the abuser from any other actions necessary to prevent further harm. An Order of Protection can be obtained by contacting a domestic violence program, by retaining an attorney, or inquiring about the required forms to your local law enforcement.
B. Exclusive Possession: Illinois law provides for the court to forcibly remove a spouse from the parties’ residence in cases where domestic violence is present and provide exclusive possession of the residence to the other spouse. In divorce proceedings, to forcibly remove a spouse from the house; a party must file either a petition for exclusive possession of the residence under Section 701 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, or a petition for an order of protection under Section 214 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. However, one does not have to have a pending divorce in order to seek exclusive possession of a residence. Specifically, exclusive possession is a remedy to be included in an order or protection under the Domestic Violence Act where the risk of future abuse outweighs the hardship the abuser would have in leaving the residence. Exclusive possession does not affect title or dictate who will be awarded the home upon entry of a divorce, but it has ramifications on other issues, such as temporary living arrangements, custody, parenting time and support.
Domestic violence is a crime which must be immediately addressed to prevent further harm to the victim and to protect children from a cycle of violence. There is no shame in getting the help needed as domestic violence impacts every community, socioeconomic status, and both heterosexual and homosexual partners. The best defense to domestic violence is by letting the law provide the remedies and resources available to the victim.