Confronting an Order of Protection in the Wake of a Divorce

By Natalie Bower

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell, P.C.

Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on orders of protection. Click here to read Part 2.

It has become all too common for a man to find himself in the midst of a contested divorce case faced with a spouse unwilling to agree on custody and visitation. When going through a divorce, particularly when children are involved and custody and visitation are in dispute, parties can become frustrated with the court process and the time and expense involved.

Unfortunately, this leads some people to resort to using Orders of Protection as an expedited means of obtaining custody of the children or exclusive possession of the marital home while their divorce case is pending. Judges strongly frown upon either party’s misuse of the court for such a purpose, and clients should speak to their attorneys upon being served with, or prior to filing, an Order of Protection in the midst of their divorce case in order to assess the nature of any abuse that may be occurring and options for addressing the abuse.

Having knowledge of what an Order of Protection entails and what it can potentially add to a contested custody case enables clients to be better prepared for addressing the Order of Protection itself and keeping focused on the bigger picture of what is truly at stake.

An Order of Protection is meant to protect a person from abuse or harassment.  The process is generally initiated by a person filing a Petition requesting an Order of Protection alleging a specific act of abuse or threat of abuse committed by the other person. An initial Order of Protection can be, and often is, entered without notice to the defending party on an emergency basis and then set for a hearing date in the near future.  Many courts implement this type of a process in order to maintain the status quo until a hearing can be held and proper notice is given to the defending party.

It is important to make your attorney aware of any Order of Protection proceedings as early as possible not only to prepare for the upcoming hearing but to also review any options that may be available for addressing the Order prior to the hearing.  In some states, the defending party is entitled to request a re-hearing on the Emergency Order of Protection which can be accomplished just within days of the Emergency Order being entered.

Your attorney will want to meet with you to review the events and related issues of the Order of Protection.  Keeping your attorney informed of the full truth – including the seemingly less vital details as well as the facts that you fear could potentially harm your case – provides the best preparation for the hearing and also allows your attorney to fully assess your options for proceeding.

When appearing for an Order of Protection hearing, do not neglect the significance of being respectful to the judge and attorneys involved in the case, as well as remaining calm even when outside the courtroom.  Avoid any confrontations with your spouse or other petitioning party.  In preparation for your testimony, be familiar with dates and times of events, all witnesses who were present, and any records that may be presented.  If a law enforcement agent was present during any of the alleged events, advise your attorney so that the reports can be obtained and your attorney can prepare for potential testimony by the officer(s) involved.

Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on orders of protection. Click here to read Part 2.

 

Natalie Hinton is a Associate Attorney for the Edwardsville, Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice in the state of Illinois. Ms. Hinton graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with dual degrees, a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in French. She received her Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Prior to pursuing her law degree Ms. Hinton worked as a Legal Assistant with Cordell & Cordell, P.C. in St. Louis, Missouri. It was during this time that she was inspired to attend law school.

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