DIFFICULTY: Legal help not required
Initial Filing Fee: Fee varies by jurisdiction
An order of protection is a written order signed by a judge, which requires a household or family member to stop any further abuse. Restraining orders in Illinois may be obtained against any household or family member who is abused by another household or family member. Persons in close relationships, who are not married and do not currently live or have never lived in the same household, are not covered by this law. The consequences of an order of protection provide for criminal penalties if the individual whom you are filing the order against violates the terms of the order.
Step 1: File for an Order of Protection
Fill out a Request for Order of Protection. Your local law enforcement agency, or your county’s circuit clerk’s office will have the required forms for an order of protection. After you have prepared the documents, bring the original signed copy of your request to the Circuit Clerk’s office at your county’s courthouse. At this point, a case file will be started, and you will need to pay the filing fees.
Step 2: Hearing on Emergency Order of Protection
The Circuit Clerk will tell you when your case will be heard on the Emergency order of protection it is normally the day you file your request. No notice is given to the other party until after the judge rules on your emergency order. You will then have a hearing where you get to testify. This is where you tell the judge what happened and why you need the order of protection. The judge will then rule on whether to grant the order of protection.
Step 3: Serve your Documents
Take a copy of the summons, the emergency order of protection and a copy of the petition to your local Sheriff’s Department. In Illinois, the Sheriff is responsible for serving these documents on the abuser. There is no fee to you for the service of these documents.
Step 4: Attend all Court Hearings
Check for your assigned court date once you receive notification that all parties have received the Emergency Order. Usually, the process server will provide you notification that the parties have been served. It is your responsibility to make sure that the proof of service is included in the Court file. This can be done by simply mailing or hand delivering a copy of the proof of service to the Court. After the Court receives notice that the parties have been properly served a Court date is normally scheduled. Unless there are objections raised by any of the parties, the Court will enter a Plenary Order of Protection which lasts 2 years.
Step 5: Enforcing Your Order
The Sheriff and your local police officers have the duty to enforce most of the provisions of the order of protection. Any of the police enforced remedies are their responsibility. Some remedies, however, are not police enforced. Whether a particular remedy is police enforced or not is indicated on the order. After each remedy, it either reads “police enforced” or nothing. The Sheriff will enter the information from the order of protection into the “leads” computer. This transmits the information throughout the entire state so that other law enforcement officials know about the order of protection. If the respondent violates one of the police enforced parts of the order, call the police. If the respondent violates one of the non-police enforced parts of the order, call the State’s Attorney’s Office.