Protecting Yourself: Divorce, Domestic Violence and Tros In Illinois

Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, divorces very often turn nasty. Wives and husbands will overstep the bounds of appropriate behavior, often out of revenge or greed. For whatever reason, a spouse will sometimes throw caution to the wind, and the other spouse needs to be able to protect themselves and their children.

Temporary Restraining Orders as Protection

Domestic violence is a factor in a significant portion of divorces, either as a cause or an effect, and often it results in one or both parties obtaining a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the other. A person may file for a TRO against any spouse or family member who has committed or threatened to commit domestic violence against them or their children. In Illinois, “domestic violence” is not necessarily defined as actual physical violence. You may be able to file for a TRO if you have experienced any of the following:

  • Physical violence of any kind;
  • Harassment (conduct such as the offender repeatedly telephoning your home or workplace, stalking, etc);
  • Intimidation (when the abuser makes you a witness to any kind of physical altercation against someone, which can be implied as a threat to you);
  • Wilful deprivation (denying you something like medicine, food or shelter, in order to put you in harm’s way); or
  • Threatening to do any of the above.

Depending on the terms of your restraining order, your spouse may be barred from coming near you, or they may also be barred from communicating with you in any way, such as via phone or e-mail. However, one of the most important things that can be included in the terms of a TRO is that it can restrict the spouse’s rights to child custody and/or visitation. The TRO supersedes any agreement you may have come to during your divorce proceedings.

Visitation orders can be suspended due to the granting of a TRO. The most important thing, according to the courts, is your children’s welfare and safety. The judge granting the Order can require that the party who is the subject of the Order abide by certain rules, such as agreeing to having their visits supervised, or agreeing not to take the child or children out of a certain geographical area. If these rules are not abided by, the person who is the subject of the TRO may be subject to fines or jail time.

While other states have slightly different standards, Illinois law allows the non-custodial parent’s visitation to continue unless it can be proved that the visitation would seriously harm the physical, mental and/or emotional health of the child. “Serious” harm is hard to reach under Illinois law, though; the courts have upheld visitation rights even for parents who are mentally ill or substance abusers. Child custody may also be suspended under a TRO, but generally the custodial arrangement will not be changed for good. The judge granting the Order will temporarily have the final word over custody.

Contact an Illinois Family Attorney

If you are dealing with domestic violence before, during or after a divorce, we can help. Please contact the family law firm of Sullivan, Taylor & Gumina, P.C. in Wheaton, Illinois today.