The term Order of Protection is used to describe a Court Order which protects an abused party from the abuser within the context of a family unit or household. Orders of Protection are governed by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. This Act provides further definitions and details surrounding Orders of Protection. Orders of Protection are Ordered in three different ways: An Emergency Order of Protection (EOP), an Interim Order of Protection, and a Plenary Order of Protection. Orders of Protection may protect you, your child or a disabled adult you seek to protect from abuse.

Orders of Protection are designed to protect people from abusive family members or members of their household. Orders of Protection are most often before the Courts in Northern Illinois concerning Domestic Violence issues in a household, but can be used to prevent abuse in a number of different circumstances including:Threats of Abuse, Harassment, Intimidation of a Dependent, Interference with Personal Liberties, Willful Deprivation, Neglect, and Exploitation.

Emergency Order of Protection

An Emergency Order of Protection is filed when a person believes there is an immediate threat of an event that can be used to obtain an Order of Protection, or immediately following an occurrence of one of those events when the Petitioner (the person filing the Petition) believes the event or events will continue in the near future. An Emergency Petition for Order of Protection is filed in any civil court in Illinois and, once filed, the Petitioner’s Petition will be heard by a Judge that same day. This hearing will take place without the presence of the alleged abuser.

If a Judge believes the Petition is truly due to an emergency circumstance, the Judge will Order an Emergency Order of Protection. Once this is ordered by the Court, the Court will assign a hearing date for a Plenary Order of Protection. This hearing will take place within 14-21 days. While the Emergency Order of Protection is in place, the Respondent (the opposing party) will be barred from contacting the Petitioner and will be restricted from being present within a particular distance from the Petitioner. These restrictions will last until the Plenary Hearing date.

If the Judge believes the circumstances surrounding the Petition are not an emergency, the case will be either set for a Plenary Hearing, or dismissed outright. If the Emergency Order of Protection is denied, but not dismissed, the Judge will Order the Respondent to appear for the Plenary Hearing to defend themselves.

Interim Order of Protection

It is often the case, in an Order of Protection proceeding, that the Respondent will obtain an attorney to help defend themselves. When this occurs, the Respondent will appear for the Plenary Hearing date with their attorney. At that time, their attorney will likely request the Plenary Hearing date be continued to provide that attorney the opportunity to prepare for the Hearing. In this circumstance, the Judge will likely Order an Interim Order of Protection. An Interim Order of Protection maintains the terms of an Emergency Order of Protection and extends that Order until the next court date. Frequently, in these cases, there will be more than one court date before the Plenary Hearing. At each of those court dates, the Judge will Order that the Emergency Order be continued until the Plenary Hearing. Each of these continuances is considered an Interim Order of Protection.

Another means by which an Interim Order of Protection can be entered is when the Emergency Order of Protection is filed in conjunction with another Family Law case such as a Divorce or Paternity case. It is common to see an Emergency Order of Protection last for months through Interim Orders of Protection while the associated Family Law case is being resolved. In these cases, the Court will typically consolidate the two cases. This simply means that the Order of Protection case will be transferred to the Family Law Judge and that the cases will be addressed at the same time.

Plenary Order of Protection

A Plenary Order of Protection is the Order of Protection that is Ordered at a Plenary Hearing. This is the final Hearing for your Order of Protection. At a Plenary Hearing, the Petitioner will be able to present their case arguing for a long-term Order of Protection to be entered. At this Hearing, the Respondent will have an opportunity to defend the allegations made against them. As we mentioned above, both Emergency Orders of Protection and Interim Orders of Protection are steps along the way toward a Plenary Order of Protection. If the Petitioner is successful at this Hearing, an Order will be entered restricting the Respondent’s ability to travel to particular places, such as homes, schools and places of employment. The Respondent will also be restricted from contacting the Petitioner and/or other protected parties named in the initial Petition. When an Order of Protection is consolidated with a Divorce or other Family Law case, it may be that the Plenary Hearing takes place on the same day as the final trial or hearing for the associated case. When an Order of Protection is not associated with a Divorce or Family Case, the Hearing will consider the Order of Protection alone. If either party fails to appear in Court for the Plenary Hearing, the case will either be dismissed (if the Petitioner fails to appear) or granted automatically (if the Respondent fails to appear).

The final Plenary Order of Protection may reflect the terms requested by the Petitioner, but the Judge will have the discretion to make the final terms reasonable in that Judge’s mind. The maximum length of a Plenary Order of Protection in Illinois is two years, but a Judge may find a reason to limit this period of time, depending on the circumstances.

During the course of all Orders of Protection involving children, expect the Court to enter an Order defining Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities. In such a case, it should also be expected that the Court will Order Temporary Support. This support may be for the children alone, or for both a spouse and the children when the Order of Protection is associated with a Divorce. While this is generally the case, there are occasions when the allegations in the Order of Protection are so severe that the Courts will greatly restrict Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities. To learn more about Parenting Time, Parental Responsibilities Parental Restrictions and Support, see our Custody and Visitation page, our Support page, and our Divorce page.

It is also important to note that, during the course of any of these three types of Orders of Protection, if the terms are violated and reported by the Petitioner, the Respondent will have committed a criminal offense in the state of Illinois and will be subject to a criminal proceeding. To learn more about this Criminal Proceeding, please see our Other Practice Areas page.

Who can receive an Order of Protection?

Orders of Protection in Illinois are designed to protect family members from other abusive family members or members of their household as defined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. Those possible Respondents and protected parties include:

Spouses
Former spouses
Children
Stepchildren
Foster parents
Guardians
Prospective adoptive parents
Persons who have or had dating relationships
Blood relatives
Persons related by marriage or former marriages
Persons living in the same household
Persons who formerly shared a household
Persons who allegedly have children in common
Persons with common blood through children or alleged children in common
Disabled adults (both elderly disabled adults and high-risk diabled adults)
The assistants and/or caregivers of disabled adults

A Petitioner in an Order of Protection case may Petition to protect themselves, their children, disabled adults or those assisting disabled adults.

What events can be used to Petition for an Order of Protection?

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 defines several events or occurrences which may cause a Judge to grant an Order of Protection. The Act sums those events up under the umbrella of “abuse” stating: “Abuse” means physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation but does not include reasonable direction of a minor child by a parent or person in loco parentis.” The Act also includes events such as Neglect and Exploitation. To learn more about each of these terms, click here.

If you or someone you know is in need of an Order of Protection, do not hesitate to contact an attorney. Our legal team at Crosby & Crosby LLP has the knowledge and experience to protect you and your family. Call us today to schedule a Free Initial Consultation. If your call is an emergency, please let us know immediately so we can reconfigure our schedules and accommodate your needs.

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Helpful questions about family law

How to choose the right divorce lawyer?

Choosing the right divorce lawyer, in our mind, comes down to three factors. First, is this lawyer going to be an aggressive advocate for me? Second, is this lawyer a person I can get along with personally? Third, do I trust this lawyer to communicate with me effectively? If you walk away from an initial consultation with a lawyer answering yes to those three questions, you have likely found the lawyer who is right for you.

Legal work can be extremely time consuming. Your expectations should not necessarily be that your lawyer is someone you can vent to about your personal life, as that would likely result in an unreasonably high bill. But you should expect your lawyer to keep you informed as to the status of your case. You should also expect your lawyer to listen to your wishes and concerns and use those thoughts as a basis for your case. You don’t need to talk to your lawyer everyday, but you should hear from them every other week or so.

Expect the unexpected when it comes to the Court dates. The Court system is based on a first-come-first-serve calendar, when the case is not filed as an emergency. All initial Court dates are determined by the Clerk of the Court, not of the lawyer or client. If you have a lawyer, expect the Judges to want your lawyer to do the talking, unless the Judge asks the client a question directly. You should also expect the Judge to keep the Courtroom as orderly as possible. Judges very much look down on people who speak out of turn. As for dress, the Court does not require a strict dress code, but it is always a good idea to dress professionally to show the Judge that you take the system and their Courtroom seriously.

There is a process in the law referred to as “discovery” that allows a party to a legal proceeding to discover information about the opposing party. In the context of a divorce, “discovery” is primarily used in the form of written questions and written requests for the opposing party to provide documents to the party that is doing the requesting. These are called “interrogatories” and “requests to produce.” During the process, the party answering the questions or requests must provide a written testimony, under oath, that the documents and answers are true and accurate. It is through this process of “discovery” that we are able to learn what assets a party possesses.

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