In Illinois, the law affords protection for people who are victims of or in danger or abuse. This is done through what is called an Order of Protection, which is a court order that restricts an abuser.
This document is what many people think of as a “restraining order;” Illinois law allows for a few different types of orders designed to protect a person from violence or stalking. An Order of Protection is unique in that it is specifically designed to protect from violence by a family member.
**If you believe that you and/or your child(ren) are in immediate danger from a family member, call 911 right away and get out of the situation. Once the immediate danger has passed, if you live in McHenry, Lake, or Kane County, PLEASE call our office immediately, even if it is after hours. A team member will answer, take your information, and put you in touch with an attorney as quickly as possible.
Who Is Eligible for an Order of Protection?
As stated above, an Order of Protection is restricted to family or household members. According to Illinois law, “family or household member” is defined as:
- A family member related by blood
- People who are married or used to be married
- People who share or used to share a home, apartment, or other common dwelling
- People who have or allegedly have a child in common
- People who are dating, engaged, or used to date (including same sex couples)
- People who are disabled and their personal assistants
If the abuser is not legally a member of the family or household, you may still be able to obtain a No Contact Order, which is another type of court order designed to protect someone from stalking or violence.
Which Actions are Considered Abuse?
Several different actions are considered under the definition of “abuse” per Illinois law. These include:
- Physical abuse, including sexual abuse and physical force or restraining
- Harassment such as disturbing you at work or school, calling you repeatedly, repeated surveillance, or threats of physical force
- Interference with personal liberty
- Willful deprivation of medical care, food, shelter, or other assistance
As you can see, there are several different actions that can trigger an Order of Protection. If you have questions as to whether you or your children are eligible, please call our office – we are happy to answer any questions you have and help you obtain the protection you need.
Who Can Petition for an Order of Protection?
In most cases, the petitioner must be the person being abused. However, in the case of a minor or a person with disabilities who is unable to file for themselves, anyone may file on their behalf.
There are other requirements in order to file for an Order of Protection:
- The respondent (the family or household member being filed against) must be the person abusing the petitioner.
- The court where the petition is filed must have jurisdiction over the case. This means that a) the petitioner or b) the respondent lives within that jurisdiction OR that c) the abuse took place in that jurisdiction.
If any of these elements are missing, the petitioner will be ineligible for an Order of Protection. Other types of protective orders may be available, however.
Does an Attorney Need to File the Petition?
Technically, you can file for your own Order of Protection; however, this can be a very detailed process, and missing any of these details can cause the order to be delayed or even denied. Our legal team is experienced in navigating this process and is dedicated to helping you obtain protection as quickly as possible.
Please note that this petition will be filed in civil court, rather than criminal court. As such, it will not go on the respondent’s criminal record, but police will have access to the fact that it was issued.
To file for an Order of Protection, you have the following options:
- Have your attorney file a petition in civil court (this is often the fastest option, as your attorney will know the process)
- Request an Order with a current case, such as a divorce Get the paperwork from your local circuit court clerk’s office
- Request assistance from a local domestic violence shelter to file the paperwork
If you are in need of an Order of Protection, please call. Our compassionate, experienced team is here to help you.
One thing that is important to note: please do not take actions into your own hands to remove your children from your home without the help of an attorney. While it may seem like the reasonable option at the time, this can actually hurt your chances of retaining custody of your children afterward. Instead, it can cause legal actions (such as kidnapping) to be filed against you.
By working with an attorney, you can expedite the process and make sure all your legal bases are covered. Call us today, even after hours – you will be connected with an attorney as quickly as possible.
DISCLAIMER: Any information contained herein is solely for informational purposes and is only applicable in the state of Illinois. While it is important that you educate yourself, nothing herein should be construed as legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. For specific questions, we urge you to contact a local attorney for advice pertaining to your specific legal needs.