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Divorce is a notoriously challenging experience for everyone involved, especially if one spouse is trying to escape an unhealthy or abusive relationship involving domestic violence. Unfortunately, sometimes a spouse continues unhealthy behaviors by stalking, harassing, or intimidating their future ex. This may be in an effort to manipulate their partner into staying, or it may be an inappropriate effort to monitor and “catch” the partner in misdeeds.
Whatever the reason, it is not okay for one spouse to make the other spouse feel uncomfortable or unsafe during divorce proceedings. If you are in this situation and do not know how to make it stop, read on.
Illinois law defines harassment as behavior, including messages and use of language, that is obscene, lewd, or immoral and done with the intent to offend. Examples of harassment may include:
Making indecent comments with the intent to offend, annoy, or threaten
Repeatedly calling and hanging up the phone
Sending messages via text, email, or phone
Contacting, intimidating, or threatening a spouse’s new significant other
Once the recipient of this behavior has asked the perpetrator to stop, if the behavior continues, it may constitute harassment. Harassment can carry serious legal penalties, including misdemeanor charges.
Stalking takes place when someone is watching or following a victim at least twice, causing the victim to feel that his or her safety is in danger. Stalking can become aggravated stalking if the perpetrator restrains or confines a victim or violates an Order of Protection. Stalking is at least a Class 4 felony, which carries penalties of prison time and fines of up to $25,000.
Victims of stalking or harassing behavior can take action. If the perpetrator’s actions are sufficiently threatening, a victim may file for an Emergency Order of Protection that prohibits the perpetrator from contacting them and/or their children. Emergency Orders of Protection can last up to 21 days and, after a full court hearing, may be extended in the form of a Plenary Order of Protection for up to two years. Although a perpetrator may choose not to abide by an Order of Protection, the consequences of violating Orders of Protection are severe and can land the violator in jail.
If you are being harassed or intimidated by your future ex-spouse, an Order of Protection may be appropriate. At Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio, we understand how important it is to ensure you and your children are safe from abuse and harassment. We will work closely with you during your divorce and use our extensive legal experience to make sure you have the protection you need. Schedule a free consultation with a DuPage County family law attorney today. Call us at 630-920-8855.