If you are being abused or seriously harassed you may obtain a court order ordering your spouse not to come in contact with you. In Illinois, an order of protection can be obtained on an emergency basis without notice to your spouse-under certain circumstances.
What is an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is a legal document issued by a court that protects an abused or harassed victim. The order of protection makes it illegal for an offender to abuse, harass, interfere with personal liberty, or stalk another.
Can both men and women both obtain Orders of Protection?
Yes. Orders of Protection are governed by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. This Act protects “family or household members.” The act extends protection to either spouse. In appropriate cases children can be protected parties.
Do I have to be related to the alleged abuser in order to obtain an Order of Protection?
No. The law defines “family or household member” broadly. It includes:
- Spouses and former spouses;
- Parents, children, stepchildren;
- Persons who have or allegedly have a child in common;
- Persons who have had a dating or engagement relationship;
- People with disabilities.
Do I have to be physically hit to obtain an Order of Protection?
“Abuse” includes “physical abuse, harassment, or… interference with personal liberty”
- Creating a disturbance at one’s work or school;
- Calling a person at home or at work;
- Following a person in public places;
- Repeatedly keeping a person under surveillance; or
- Threatening physical force, confinement or restraint more than once.
Can I obtain an Order of Protection if my spouse threatened to leave town with our child?
Potentially. Wrongful concealment of a child or repeated threats to conceal a child can result in an Order of Protection. A single threat following an actual or attempted improper removal of a child can also result in an Order of Protection.
How do I obtain an Order of Protection?
Counties vary as to the process. Check with either the Circuit Clerk’s office located at the county courthouse or the state’s attorney’s office. Some counties have special organizations that assist in obtaining Orders of Protection.
Are there standardized Order of Protection Forms?
How long does an Order of Protection last?
It depends on the type of order issued by the court.
- Emergency. An emergency order of protection remains in force between 14 and 21 days. The court issues an emergency order without notice to the alleged abuser if the court finds that there exists the likelihood that more harm would come to the victim if notice were given to the abuser.
- Interim. An interim order of protection remains in effect for up to 30 days. The court issues an interim order if notice has been served on the alleged abuser or the alleged abuser filed an appearance with the court.
- Plenary. A plenary order of protection can be in effect throughout the pending case. Usually the time period does not extend beyond two years.
Should I call the police if the person abusing me violates the Order of Protection?
Yes. A police officer can arrest a person if the officer believes the person has violated an Order of Protection. The police can verify the existence of the Order of Protection. But if you obtain an order of protection, carry a Hope Card with you. Illinois enacted a new law on January 1, 2022, allowing for wallet-sized cards to be carried. Public Act 102-481 refers to them as Hope Cards.
What if I am the accused abuser and I have done nothing wrong?
If an emergency order is granted, you would be served with the Emergency Petition and Order by the sheriff’s department. Even though you may have not done the things stated in the Petition, you must comply with the Order of Protection. If you don’t strictly comply, you can be arrested.
The Emergency Order of Protection will set forth a hearing date. If timely served, you must attend the hearing to state your side of the situation and contest the Order of Protection. If you fail to appear at the hearing, the Order of Protection can become final and can last up to two years.
What if my spouse has filed the Petition just to harass me. Or what if the petition was filed just to get
custody of parenting time with of our children, or just to get possession of the house?
This can happen. And it does. Unfortunately, Orders of Protection have been misused by those who use the process to intimidate or harass their spouse. There are potential sanctions that you can seek if you are subjected to the wrongful filing of Petitions for Orders of Protection.
Should I have a lawyer to obtain an Order of Protection, or to defend against one?
Often a domestic violence organization will help on seek to obtain an emergency order of protection. Yet after obtaining the emergency, it is advisable to obtain a lawyer to represent you in securing an interim or plenary order of protection.
If you are the accused and you intend to resist the Order Of Protection, it is advisable to hire a lawyer to protect your interests.
Orders of Protection can involve many matters and be complex. Because Orders of Protection are many times secured on a basis that does not provide notice to the accused, there may be matters in the Order that may or may not be justified. Without the help of a professional trained in the area of domestic violence you may be doing a disservice to yourself—whether you are the victim or the accused.
Is it possible to obtain an order of protection on behalf of a child?
Yes. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act allows a party to obtain an order of protection “by any person on behalf of a minor child… who has been abused by a family or household member and who, because of age… cannot file the petition.”