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Belleville and Edwardsville Divorce Law Blog

The lingering effects of domestic violence in divorce cases

Emotions often run high during a divorce, and the first year of separation can be particularly difficult and dangerous for estranged spouses who have been the victims of domestic violence and abuse. This is the period when decisions are made about important matters like child custody and visitation, and the lingering effects of family violence can have a profound impact on how abused victims approach these issues according to research from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois.

The research, which can be found in the Journal of Family Psychology, looked into two distinct types of domestic violence. Coercive violence is what most people would think of when the subject of spousal abuse is raised, and it usually occurs when arguments over money or infidelity get heated and become violent. Controlling violence is more insidious in nature, and the parties guilty of it generally keep tight reins over the family finances and strictly regulate social contacts.

Immigrants especially vulnerable to domestic violence

Leaving an abusive relationship can be very difficult for many Illinois women. Pressure to stay with an abuser often arises from a person's lack of income, homelessness and no access to health care. Among immigrants, especially individuals without documentation to be in the country, barriers to action include fear of deportation, poor English language skills and little understanding of legal rights.

Abusers often exploit these factors to keep someone trapped in an abusive home. Strong attitudes from the federal government toward immigrants have greatly increased the fear of deportation among victims who might otherwise seek help. Anecdotal evidence from people who serve victims indicates that more immigrants are refusing to call police when an abuser strikes.

Preparation, evidence can help fathers seek full custody

Fathers in Illinois going through a divorce are often worried about being ripped away from their children. This is intensified even more in situations of abuse, addiction and other contexts in which fathers want to achieve sole, rather than joint or shared, custody of their children. Many fathers may worry about a potential bias toward mothers in family court or preconceived ideas about a man's role in child-rearing.

However, fathers who seek child custody have a good record of achieving their rights in courts. Working together with a family lawyer, fathers can help to secure their full rights to custody and protect the best interests of their children.

Divorced fathers and co-parenting

6372318_S.jpgWhen couples with children get divorced, it can sometimes be difficult for fathers to remain as actively involved with their children as they were before the divorce. However, there are certain steps fathers can take to make sure that they are involved in their children's lives.

Preparation is key when having to submit proposals to the court regarding custody and visitation. It is important to take into account the needs of the children and the work times for both parents. One should keep in mind that while the court prefers that the custody and visitation plans be accommodating for all parties, the ultimate deciding factor is what is in the best interests of the children.

Handling custody matters when parents aren't getting divorced

37384825_S.jpgIllinois parents may not need to be divorced in order to experience issues with child custody or visitation. In some cases, grandparents or other family members may try to get custody or visitation rights enforced. When parents are unmarried, the mother is generally awarded sole physical custody of the children. This may change only if the father takes action.

Like in most child custody or visitation cases, those involving unmarried parents may be resolved either through a private settlement or court action. If a case goes to court, the judge will look to establish the child's primary caretaker. He or she also will try to establish visitation arrangements that are in a child's best interests.

Child custody challenges resulting from a parent's disability

42511724_S.jpgSome Illinois parents may fear that they may lose custody of their children due to a disability. These fears are not unfounded as courts have continued to interfere with the rights of disabled parents to raise their children.

One woman faced an unexpected court battle in 2009 after her former boyfriend filed for custody of the former couple's 10-week-old son. The former boyfriend claimed that the woman, a veteran who was a quadriplegic, was not fit to care for the infant. The boy's mother refuted the claim and demonstrated that she did have the ability to provide proper care for the child. She reportedly worked with an occupational therapy program that helped her prepare for carding for a newborn before the birth of her child. Additionally, she had outfitted her home with the equipment needed and that she had personal assistants available to help.

Protecting children's college savings in divorces

38970275_S.jpgWhen Illinois residents are going through divorces, they might wonder what they should do about the college savings that they have accumulated for their children. College savings should be clearly addressed in their property settlement agreements to prevent their ex-spouses from spending the money on themselves or on others in the future.

People who are getting divorced might worry that their ex-spouses may spend money in their children's college savings accounts on children of new spouses or on themselves. In order to prevent these problems from occurring, it is important for them to address each type of account in their divorce settlement agreement and how they should be spent.

Getting out of abusive relationships is important

41848878_S.jpgDomestic violence continues to be a pervasive problem in Illinois. A study that was conducted in Rockford demonstrates the severity of the issue.

According to Remedies Renewing Lives, the organization found that between 25 and 30 percent of all of the criminal cases that are filed in Rockford are crimes of domestic violence. The Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that 61 people in Illinois have been killed during this year, and the number of fatalities has increased over those in prior years. Winnebago County has had 3,500 cases involving domestic violence so far in 2017, but fortunately, no one has been killed.

Raising awareness of domestic violence

14407409_S.jpgIn many parts of Illinois, domestic violence remains a problem. Alton police, for example, have responded to more than 500 reports of domestic violence in 2017 alone. In Madison County, it is estimated that about 1,400 emergency orders of protection were filed, coming out to an average of five each and every day. To combat incidents of domestic violence, the Alton Police Chief and his wife started the annual Domestic Violence Awareness Walk.

The Domestic Violence Awareness Walk is an annual event that was began after a 30-year-old woman was killed and dismembered by her boyfriend. At the first annual event, just 30 people were involved. The event grew to 100 people. It raises money by charging walkers $10 each. The funds are distributed to different organizations that help curb domestic violence and provide resources for those attempting to escape domestic violence.

Blended Retirement System may complicate military divorce

23829773_S.jpgMilitary personnel in Illinois are likely aware of the Blended Retirement System set to go into effect in January 2018. The system will impact not only military retirement, but many other aspects of military life as well. According to a military family law attorney, the BRS may cause frustration and more work in military divorce cases.

The BRS significantly impacts the way former military spouses will be treated financially. The attorney said the old standard was 50 percent of High-3 base pay, but that is not valid any longer, as it is 40 percent, not 50. He also said former military spouses whose divorces are finalized before 2018 may not have any legal right to the defined contribution Thrift Savings Plan, because it represents a new benefit under the BRS.

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Stange Law Firm, PC
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