An order of protection, also sometimes informally called a “restraining order,” is a court order that is intended to stop domestic violence, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, or interference with personal liberty. Men, women, and children can seek an order of protection. The law surrounding orders or protection can be complex, so I always recommend that those seeking an order of protection – or those defending themselves against a wrongfully filed order of protection – retain an attorney.
Physical abuse is defined by Illinois law to include:
- sexual abuse
- physical abuse, confinement, or restraint
- purposeful, repeated and unnecessary sleep deprivation
- behavior which creates an immediate risk of physical harm
Harassment is defined by Illinois law to include:
- creating a disturbance at your place of work or place of school
- repeatedly calling your work or school
- repeatedly following you around in a public place or places
- repeatedly observing you by loitering outside of your home, school, work, vehicle, or looking in through your windows;
- threatening physical abuse, confinement, or restraint
- improperly hiding your child from you or repeatedly threatening to do so, repeatedly threatening to improperly remove your child from your physical care or from the state, or making a single one of these threats following an actual or attempted improper removal or hiding of your child
Intimidation of a dependent includes:
- when the abuser makes you participate in, or witness, physical force, physical confinement, or restraint against any person
Interference with personal liberty includes:
- committing or threatening to commit physical abuse, harassment, intimidation or deprivation with the intention of forcing you to do something you don’t want to do or not allowing you to do something that you have a right to do
An order of protection may be obtained against against a family or household member who has committed acts of domestic violence against the victim or their minor child.
A family or household member includes:
- A spouse or ex-spouse
- A boyfriend or girlfriend, or someone you date or used to date
- A parent, stepparent or grandparent
- A stepchild or child of yours, even if you’re not married to the child’s father or mother
- A person responsible for you if you are a high-risk or disabled adult
- A person related to you by blood or by marriage
- A person who you live with or have lived with in the past
- The mother or father or your baby, even if you have never been married to them or lived with them
- A person with whom you share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child
- A caregiver
An abuse victim can request an Order of Protection on behalf of themselves, their minor child, an incapacitated adult, or another household member.
There are three types of Order of Protection:
Emergency Orders of Protection: An emergency order can be obtained based solely upon an abuse victim’s testimony before a judge. The alleged abuser does not need to be present. The judge must be convinced that the abuse victim is in danger, or experiencing emotional distress, or else the judge may not grant the Emergency Order of Protection.
Interim Orders of Protection: An interim order is generally used to protect an abuse victim in between the time when the emergency Order of Protection expires and the full hearing necessary before a court can enter a Plenary Order of Protection. An interim order lasts for up to 30 days.
Plenary Orders of Protection: A plenary Order of Protection can be issued only after a court hearing in which the alleged victim and alleged abuser have been afforded the opportunity to obtain lawyers and present their evidence in court. It provides the most protection and the longest-term protection. A plenary order may last up to two years.
An order of protection may require the abuser to do any of the following:
- stop harassing, abusing, stalking, and intimidating you, and interfering with your personal liberty;
- leave your shared residence or stay away from your shared home when he is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and is a threat to you or your children;
- stay away from your home, work, school or any other site you specify in the order;
- not contact you in any way (including phone, mail or through third parties);
- give up his guns and firearm owner’s identification card to local law enforcement for up to two years;
- give you your personal property and forbid your abuser from taking or damaging your personal property or property that you co-own with the abuser;
- reimburse you for losses suffered as a result of abuse, such as medical expenses, lost earnings; property damage, attorney’s fees, moving and travel expenses, shelter and meals, cost of finding/
- recovering your children, counseling for you and your children;
- undergo counseling;
- pay you child and spousal support;
- not remove your child from the state, not to hide the child within the state, or to bring the child to court; and/or
- not have access to the children’s school (or other) records.
The order or protection can give an abuse victim any of the following:
- temporary custody of children, and determine temporary visitation rights, if any
- custody of any animal owned by the victim, the abuser or the child (even if the child lives with the abuser) and order the abuser to stay away from the animal and forbid the abuser from taking, harming, or otherwise disposing of the animal
- anything else necessary to prevent further abuse
Where an Order of Protection may be requested:
A petition for an order of protection may be filed in any county where the victim lives, where the abuser lives, where the abuse occurred, or where the victim is temporarily located if he or she left his or her home to avoid further abuse and could not obtain safe temporary housing in the county where his or her home is located.