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How to File for an Order of Protection in Illinois

By Nottage and Ward on November 3, 2020

When we enter into a relationship, we do so with a sense of trust. We trust that our partners will not just be kind and respectful, but also offer us a safe place to relax and be vulnerable in. Unfortunately, there are some people who take advantage of that trust and vulnerability. If you are living with an abusive partner, then you need to find somewhere safe to say and then file an order of protection. Nothing is more important than your safety. Even if your partner tries to dissuade you from leaving and getting help, put yourself first and ask the court for the protection you are in dire need of.

What Is an Order of Protection?

An order of protection is essentially a court approved document that makes it illegal for a particular individual to engage in certain behavior with or near you. This may not just be physical abuse. Stalking, harassing, or even phone calls could all be considered violations of the order of protection. If communication is necessary between the two of you – for example, if you have a child together – then the order may allow for certain types of communication, such as emails, that can be reviewed if need be. Ultimately, an order of protection is, first and foremost, a document that is meant to ensure your safety.

What Is the Process to Get an Order?

There are two main categories for orders of protection. The first is an Emergency Order of Protection. This one can be granted almost immediately after being filed and will last for about three weeks. The benefit of the emergency order is that, while you do still need to fill out some paperwork, you do not have to alert the person you are filing the order against until after the order is granted. This is especially important if this person commits domestic abuse against you and you are afraid that they’ll try to stop you.

In order to obtain an Emergency Order of Protection, you will first need to fill out the petition. This petition tells the judge what happened and why you need protection. This can be difficult, as you will want to include as many details about the abuse as possible. While it may be painful, this is an important step because your petition can be denied if the judge has little to base their decision on.

Once your form is filled out and filed, take a copy to the circuit clerk at the courthouse in the county where you live, where your abuser lives, or where the abuse happened. Which county you pick will depend solely on your own personal preference. After filling out your form, the circuit clerk will then stamp it and file it for internal records. You will be given a copy and can request additional ones with certified stamps for your own personal record. Be sure to do this, as you may never know when you need another copy.

After that, the clerk will inform you which judge will be hearing your request for the Order of Protection. If you are asking for an emergency order, then your hearing will likely be scheduled fairly quickly, and you will be granted one without the abuser present. During this hearing, the judge will decide whether you truly need an order of protection. If you are granted your request, the local sheriff will be available to deliver the order to your abuser. After that point, the order will last three weeks

However, remember that these emergency orders are only for a short period of time. They are not a permanent solution. Thankfully, after having your emergency orders approved, your case will be set for a hearing to obtain a Plenary Order of Protection.

The Court will set your hearing to determine whether you should be granted a Plenary Order of Protection soon after your emergency hearing. Unlike with the Emergency Order, your abuser will be given notice of the hearing and, like you, will have the opportunity to present evidence and arguments against entry of the Order. The Judge will make a determination as to whether or not a Plenary Order should be granted to you. If the abuser does not show up to the hearing, then the judge may elect to approve the order, or they may decide to reschedule the hearing. If the hearing is rescheduled, then your emergency order will likely be extended until the next Court date. If your Plenary Order of Protection is granted, then it can last for up to 2 years.

What if You’re Going Through a Divorce?

If you are divorcing the person that you are filing the order of protection against, then the process is roughly the same, with a few key differences. First, you should get somewhere safe as soon as possible before beginning the process of filing the form. Wait for your partner to leave for work or an errand and then get out of the house. Call a friend or family member for pick up. Be sure to bring important documents like your driver’s license, social security card, and birth certificate, but do not bother taking the time to pack up other belongings. Those can be rebought if need be. What is most important is your safety.

Once you are safe and away from your abuser, you can then file for an Emergency Order of Protection. If you are worried about your former partner’s parental rights towards your children, then keep in mind that a judge, upon approving an order of protection, can change current parental responsibilities. This may mean that you are granted sole rights over your children while the order of protection is in place, or it may mean that your former partner has very limited rights. If your children are at risk of being abused, then the judge is more likely to grant them a protection order as well.

While this can be lengthy and difficult, with a passionate and determined Chicago family law attorney by your side, you will be able to get through it. For the helping hand you need, especially during such a difficult period of time in your life, call Nottage and Ward, LLP at (312) 332-2915 today.

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