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Know the Laws: Illinois

UPDATED September 19, 2017

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An order of protection is a civil order that provides protection from a family or household member who has committed acts of domestic violence against you or your minor child.  Also, any person living or employed at a private home or public shelter which houses an abused family or household member may also be eligible to apply for an order of protection.

Basic info

back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic violence in Illinois?

For the purposes of getting an order of protection, domestic violence is defined as any of the following:

  • Physical abuse - the law defines this as:
    • sexual abuse;
    • physical force, confinement or restraint;
    • purposeful, repeated and unnecessary sleep deprivation; or
    • behavior which creates an immediate risk of physical harm.*
  • Harassment - unnecessary conduct which causes you emotional distress. The law assumes the following to be harassment:
    • creating a disturbance at your work or school;
    • repeatedly telephoning your work or school;
    • repeatedly following you in a public place or places;
    • repeatedly keeping you under surveillance by staying outside of your home, school, work, vehicle or another place you are in or by peering through your windows;
    • threatening physical force, confinement or restraint on one or more occasions; or
    • 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; (Note: There is an exception for someone who is accused of doing this if s/he was fleeing an incident or pattern of domestic violence).*1
  • Intimidation of a dependent (someone can be "dependent" on the abuser because of age, health or disability) - this is defined as when the abuser makes you participate in or witness physical force, physical confinement, or restraint against any person (regardless of whether that person is a family or household member).*2
  • Interference with personal liberty - this is defined as committing or threatening to commit physical abuse, harassment, intimidation or deprivation (i.e., not giving you food, medicine, or shelter) 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.*3
  • Willful deprivation – this is defined as purposely denying an elderly or disabled person the medication, medical care, shelter, food or other assistance that s/he needs, thereby putting that person at risk of physical, mental or emotional harm.*4

* 750 ILCS 60/103(1),(14)
*1 750 ILCS 60/103 (1),(7)
*2 750 ILCS 60/103 (1),(10)
*3 750 ILCS 60/103 (1),(9)
*4 750 ILCS 60/103 (1),(15)


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back to topWhat types of orders of protection are available? How long do they last?

There are three types of orders. Emergency and interim orders of protection provide temporary, short-term protection.  A plenary order offers longer-term protection.

Emergency orders. An emergency order can be obtained based solely on your testimony to a judge. The judge can grant this order ex parte (without prior notice to the abuser and without him/her being in court) if the harm you are trying to prevent would be likely to happen if s/he is notified that you applied for the order.*  In order to get the abuser removed from your shared home, the judge must believe that the immediate danger of further abuse outweighs the hardship to the abuser of being suddenly removed from his/her`home.*1  You may also be able to get possession of personal property in an emergency order if the judge believes that the abuser would likely get rid of the property if s/he knew you were asking the judge for it or if you have an immediate and pressing need for possession of that property. *2

You can file for an emergency order even on holidays and weekends or when the court is closed at night.  You can file a petition for a 21-day emergency order before any available circuit judge or associate judge.*3  The emergency order will last until you can have a full hearing for a plenary order, usually within 14-21 days.*4

Interim orders. You do not need to have a full court hearing to be granted an interim order.  However, the abuser (or possibly his/her lawyer) must have made an initial appearance before the court or the abuser must have been notified of the date of your court hearing before you can be given an interim order.*5  Interim orders are often used to protect you inbetween the time when your emergency order expires and your full court hearing for a plenary order takes place.  An interim order lasts for up to 30 days.*6

Plenary orders.  A plenary order of protection can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to present evidence.  A plenary order may last up to two years,*7 and there is no limit on the number of times an order of protection can be renewed.*8   See How do I change or extend my order of protection? for more information on renewing an order.  You may want to have a lawyer represent you in the hearing, especially if you believe the abuser will have a lawyer.  Go to our IL Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.

* 750 ILCS 60/217(a)(3)(i)
*1 750 ILCS 60/217(a)(3)(ii)
*2 750 ILCS 60/217(a)(3)(iii)
*3 750 ILCS 60/217(c)(1)
*4 750 ILCS 60/220(a)(1)
*5 750 ILCS 60/218(a)(3)
*6 750 ILCS 60/220(a)(2)
*7 750 ILCS 60/220(b)
*8 750 ILCS 60/220(e)

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back to topCan I bring an advocate to court with me for support?

Most likely, yes. The law allows domestic abuse advocates to help victims of abuse while they prepare their petitions.  Also, you can have an advocate sit next to you at the table in the courtroom and confer (talk) with you during the hearing, unless the judge says otherwise.*

* 750 ILCS 60/205(b)

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back to topIn which county can I file for an order of protection?

A petition for an order of protection may be filed in any county where you live, where the abuser lives, where the abuse occurred or where you are temporarily located if you left your home to avoid further abuse and could not obtain safe temporary housing in the county where your home is located.  However, if you are asking for the abuser to be removed from the home (known as “exclusive possession”) as part of your order of protection, you can ONLY file in the county where the home is located* unless you meet one of the following exceptions (and then you can file in the county or judicial circuit where the residence is located or in a neighboring county or judicial circuit):

  1. you are also filing for a divorce in addition to the order of protection;** or
  2. you have fled to a different county to escape the abuse.  However, in this case, you can only get exclusive possession of the home by a judge in a neighboring county as part of an emergency order.  The case would then have to be transferred to the county where the home is located to get exclusive possession in an interim or plenary order.***
* 750 ILCS 60/209(a)
** 750 ILCS 60/209(b)(1)
*** 750 ILCS 60/209(b)(2)

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