New Illinois Laws Help Domestic Violence Victims

DuPage County Domestic Violence Attorneys

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Illinois is implementing new laws protecting domestic violence victims that will go into effect next month. The laws were designed to bring positive change to a severe problem. Three significant bills were passed and signed into law in August 2015 affecting the rights and protections of domestic violence victims. Though there is still significant work that needs to be done to minimize the negative effects of domestic violence on families throughout Illinois, these laws are positive changes that will go into effect in November 2015. It is important to understand your rights as a domestic violence victim as well as how domestic violence may affect your safety, your child’s safety, and custody in a divorce proceeding.

New Illinois Laws

Three bills were signed into law in response to significant concerns about rampant domestic violence in Illinois:

  1. Senate Bill 1547
  2. Senate Bill 1645
  3. House Bill 1121

Senate Bill 1547

Senate Bill 1547, or Public Act 099-0441, prevents municipalities from penalizing callers reporting domestic violence. Some jurisdictions in Illinois currently have laws in place that allow for civil penalties for individuals who make “excessive” calls or false claims regarding domestic violence abuse—this is no longer legally permissible under state law. This new law serves to protect anyone making calls reporting or responding to domestic or sexual violence and, moreover, provides civil remedies for any individuals who are punished under such circumstances. The concern is that threat of punishment may be a deterrent to individuals reporting domestic violence abuse of themselves or others. This new law ensures that victims and third parties can take initiative and report abuse without the possibility of reprimand.

Senate Bill 1645

Senate Bill 1645, or Public Act 099-0420, provides some financial security for domestic violence victims that have an Order for Protection issued against their abuser. So long as certain criteria are met, a victim is allowed a grace period for paying utility fees when moving into a new, safe home. Allowing victims an extended time period to get on their feet after domestic abuse is promising to help ease the transition into a new home.

House Bill 112

House Bill 1121, or Public Act 099-0413, aims to increase crime victim’s knowledge of their rights in addition to allowing more of a say in when (or if) the accused abuser should be released from custody. The victim’s rights have been significantly expanded and include additional notification requirements regarding hearings and release, as well as increased transparency and participation in court proceedings. The aim of this legislation seeks to allow victims a broader opportunity for participation in the legal proceedings affecting the freedom of the accused.

Domestic Violence in Illinois

While each of these laws have broad ambitions to help increase victim’s rights while improving reporting laws and heightening the victim’s involvement in court proceedings, there is much work to be done. Domestic violence is a significant social problem that spans all races, socioeconomic statuses, and communities. Though predominantly initiated by a male partner, men can also be victims of domestic violence. Many people erroneously believe that one has to be married to be abused “domestically.” However, Illinois law defines domestic violence as broadly as persons who share or used to share a home and can include spouses, ex spouses, fiancés, or individuals dating one another. While the greatest protector of domestic abuse is the Order of Protection, this can often be viewed merely as a piece of paper that cannot prevent injury from occurring. Getting an Order for Protection is critical, but unfortunately, not always enough to deter abusers. The new laws going into effect in November 2015 aim to improve domestic violence victim’s rights and attempt to improve an imperfect system.

DuPage County Domestic Violence Attorneys

At Abear Law Offices, our experienced team of DuPage County family law attorneys recognize the immense difficulty, pressure, and fear suffered by a domestic violence victim. We understand the impact abuse can have on your self-esteem, your safety, and your family. Regardless of whether you have an Order of Protection issued against your abuser, if you have reported domestic violence, or if you are thinking of reporting domestic violence, we can help. Our Illinois family law and domestic violence lawyers know how to navigate the most difficult cases and will work tirelessly to ensure safety for you and your children. If you are considering divorce, domestic violence abuse may have a significant effect on child custody. Domestic violence can impact all areas of an individual’s life, but we can help you get and maintain the protection you need to feel safe and move on with your life. Do not hesitate to contact one of our five convenient Chicagoland locations in Wheaton, St. Charles, Naperville, Warrenville, or Chicago.

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