George and Irene own a cozy bungalow on the outskirts of the city. They have been married for a year after a whirlwind courtship and their relationship is rocky, at best. When Irene discovers that George is cheating on her, she is outraged. She files for divorce a few weeks later. George is furious, and the two argue extensively over who will get to keep the house. Irene has a lower-paying job than George, massive student debt and no family support system to fall back on. George works for an advertising firm downtown, and is up for a promotion next quarter. In a moment of desperation after another argument, George tells Irene she is going to be out on the streets and Irene calls 9-1-1 and tells the dispatcher that George hit her, and that she fears for her life. The police get involved, and George is arrested and forced to move out of their home before the divorce is even settled.
What will happen to George? Who will get to keep the house?
The Marital Home
The American Psychological Association reports that about 40 to 50% of married couples in the United States end up filing for divorce. Psychology Today reports that statistic falls to about 30% for people with college degrees. However, the rate is even higher when one of the spouses was married previously. Whatever percentage is used, a significant number of Americans go through the divorce process and many couples must live together in the same house until their divorce is finalized. What are some of the potential problems of having to share a home while going through the often contentious divorce process?
Do I Have to Live With My Spouse While Going Through the Divorce Process?
If you cannot bear the thought of living with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse while going through a divorce, you can ask the court to award you sole possession of your marital home until the divorce is finalized under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. If the court grants your petition, the other spouse must move out. However, to prevail, you will have to prove in your petition that the other spouse is jeopardizing your mental and physical well-being or that of your children.
Domestic Battery Claims From Soon-to-be Ex-Spouses
If the court denies your petition or if you cannot live in separate houses due to financial reasons or other considerations, you will need to live in the marital home. This living arrangement can become a recipe for disagreement and hostility. It should come as no surprise, then, that some spouses will make false domestic violence allegations against the other spouse when sharing the same house during a separation.
An Illinois domestic battery occurs when someone knowingly or intentionally causes bodily harm or makes physical contact that is insulting or provoking. The temptation for one spouse to file a false domestic violence claim can be powerful. The false domestic violence claim could help a spouse gain custody of the kids or possession of the house and cars after the divorce is finalized.
What can I do to Protect Myself Against False Domestic Battery Claims?
People make claims of domestic violence. Most claims have merit, but sometimes people make the allegations with an ulterior motive. The most important thing you can do is hire a skilled attorney who will poke holes in your spouse’s false domestic violence claims. Your attorney can try to get your case dismissed so you do not have to go to trial. If you do go to trial, your attorney will attempt to show that the prosecutor cannot prove that you committed domestic battery beyond a reasonable doubt.
Your spouse may have medical records that show she was injured. A skillful attorney can argue that the medical records do not prove that you caused the injury and use witness statements to demonstrate that your spouse has a motive to falsely accuse you of domestic battery. Finally, a skilled attorney can cross-examine the police officer’s statements with the police reports when necessary to demonstrate the truth of the matter.
If your spouse has falsely accused you of domestic violence, contact an experienced domestic battery criminal defense attorney. With quick and skillful action, we can make the best defenses and legal arguments in your fight to have your case dismissed. If your case goes to trial, we will aggressively fight for an innocent verdict. Contact the experienced domestic battery attorneys of Glasgow & Olsson by phone or by filling out our online form. We assist clients in Cook, Lake, Kane, McHenry, and Dupage counties.
(image courtesy of Soroush Karimi)