Illinois governor Pat Quinn recently signed four bills that directly address the issue of family law and domestic violence. The changes will affect the way that abusers are punished and how the victims of abused are protected. Over 100,000 people in the state of Illinois feel the effects of domestic violence every year. KLJB recently published a story about these changes.
The first two laws take effect immediately. These laws deal with the school systems and how they must educate and report incidences of dating violence among teenagers. The first law mandates that all students are educated about the signs, dangers, and consequences of dating violence. This is especially important because studies have shown that children who are exposed to domestic violence tend to manifest the same behaviors in their own relationships. This law also requires that the school system put procedures into place regarding how the school staff responds these incidents.
The second law extends the deadline for the development of a task force that is implementing an initiative to prevent dating violence across the state of Illinois.
The third law, and one of the most prevalent of the changes, deals with the way that crimes of domestic violence are punished. Currently, acts of domestic violence are treated as misdemeanors. Legislators contend that the reason that the problem is not taken seriously is that the punishment does not fit the crime. Beginning January 1, 2014, anyone who has been convicted of four acts of domestic violence will thereafter be charged with a felony, which is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
The fourth law, also goes into effect at the same time as the third, and protects the medical record of the victim even if the abuser is the primary insured. This will keep the abuser from getting the address and contact phone number of their victim.
If you are a victim of domestic violence in your marriage, an order of protection can help. Contact an Illinois family law attorney to talk about the special circumstances of your case.