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Domestic Violence and Divorce

​Criminal law and family law are both distinct and intricate practice areas on their own. In the few scenarios where these legal areas intersect, complex issues for legal professionals and the parties involved are likely to arise.

Divorce can be a triggering event for domestic violence. When they go hand in hand (and they often do), certain aspects of the divorce process - such as child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and other matters - are complicated immensely. And if charges are filed, both parties will have to undergo criminal procedure while in the midst of a divorce.

Fortunately, the legal team at Dolci & Weiland are well-versed in both criminal law and family law and have a keen insight as to how to navigate both processes simultaneously and effectively.

Recent changes in the Illinois Dissolution of Marriage Act don't require parties to list domestic violence as a grounds for divorce. But because domestic violence and divorce are so frequently interlinked, many laws in Illinois still specifically address how abuse impacts court decisions in either realm of law. We'll explain the common overlap of domestic violence issues in Illinois divorce proceedings, and what that could possibly mean for you.

No-Contact Order

Illinois provides a civil remedy for abuse via no-contact order, also known as a restraining order. They are regularly served in conjunction with a divorce. Under the law, no-contact orders are only imposed in the event that a perpetrator has committed or threatened to commit domestic battery, which is violence against a household or family member. Judges tend to err on the side of caution, so they're granted liberally. If issued, the court will order that an alleged perpetrator avoid contact with the accuser for a certain duration of time.

According to Illinois statutes, there are legal consequences for violating, or not complying with a no-contact order. Doing so is considered “contempt of court.” The violation a no-contact order can be charged as either a Class A misdemeanor or a Class 4 felony.

Child Custody & Visitation

At the beginning of every custody case, each parent is expected to notify the court of additional proceedings involving domestic violence, no-contact orders, and related criminal matters. Of course, the best interest of the child will take precedence, leading to the presumption that it is not ideal for a child to live or even have visitation with an abusive parent. With the help of an attorney, however, you can present evidence that could convince the courts that you're suitable enough for custody or visitation in some capacity.

The court is likely to deny or restrict child custody and visitation if the judge has a valid reason to believe that you would:

  • Endanger or abuse the child
  • Kidnap or refuse to return the child
  • Use visitation or custody as a means of harassing someone in your household
  • Do anything that is not in the child's best interest

But with any allegations of abuse, you are likely to be granted visitation at most. This visitation could be supervised or unsupervised, depending on the facts of your case. The termination of one's parental rights in these cases is extremely rare. A judge must have good reason to believe that a parent is capable of inflicting physical, emotional or mental abuse upon a child.

It is not permissible for the courts to grant visitation to a parent who has been convicted of first-degree murder of the parent, grandparent, great-grandparent or a sibling of a child.

Property Division

The division of financial assets in a divorce is a decent part of the equation when divorcing. In some states, marital property is split down the middle regardless of the financial standing of each party. In Illinois, this isn't the case. It is an equitable distribution state, which means that the courts decide the way that marital property is split based on what is fair for each individual. It does not mean this division will be equal.

If a protective order is in place or there are pending domestic violence allegations, the courts may factor in the likelihood of financial abuse in their decision. Somebody can commit financial abuse by using the marital property they've gained from the court to deny the victim access to this property or use it as leverage.

Contact Dolci & Weiland Today

When criminal law meets family law you need the assistance of an attorney who truly understands both legal areas. The stakes are high in both a criminal case and divorce case if you've been charged with domestic violence. This is why it's critical you secure the representation of an experienced attorney in either situation. You should never defend yourself in any case, and you won't have to with the legal professionals of Dolci & Weiland in your corner.

To speak with a member of our team, fill out an online case evaluation form or give us a ring at the office closest to you today. The number for our downtown Chicago location is 312-238-9007, for our DuPage office, call 630-261-9098.