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Know the Laws: Illinois

UPDATED April 13, 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.

After the hearing

back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courthouse?

These are some things you may want to consider after you have been granted an order of protection.  Depending on what you think is safest in your situation, you may do any or all of the following:

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk how to correct the order before you leave.
  • Make several copies of the order of protection as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order at your workplace, at your home, at the children's school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks (if permitted by law) and your phone number.

You may also wish to make a safety plan. People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many batterers obey orders of protection, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. Click on the following link for suggestions on Staying Safe.

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back to topI was not granted an order of protection. What are my options?

If you are not granted an order of protection, there are still some things you can do to try to stay safe.  It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe.  They can help you come up with a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need.  You will find a list of resources on our IL State and Local Programs page. You will also find information on safety planning on our Staying Safe page.

You may also be able to reapply for an order of protection if a new incident of domestic violence occurs after you are denied the order.
If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to someone at a domestic violence organization or a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal.  Generally, appeals can be complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer. Go to our Filing Appeals page for general information on appeals.

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back to topWhat can I do if the abuser violates the order?

You can call the police or sheriff, even if you think it is a minor violation.  The Illinois Domestic Violence Act requires that police take all reasonable steps to prevent further abuse to you, including possibly arresting the abuser.*  The police need not witness the actual abuse, as long as there is “probable cause” (good reason) to believe that a crime happened.*1  Violation of a domestic violence order of protection can be a Class A misdemeanor or, if the abuser has prior convictions for certain other crime(s), it can be a Class 4 felony.*2  It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge numbers in case you want to follow up on your case.  Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made.

When the police arrive, show them a copy of the order of protection.  If you don't have a copy, they can verify its existence by telephone or radio with local law enforcement.  Once they verify the order and that it has been served, they may arrest the abuser.*3  If the order has not been served, they may serve the abuser, if the abuser is present.

If the police do not arrest the abuser or file a criminal complaint, you may still have the right to file for civil contempt for a violation of the order.  It can be a crime and contempt of court if the abuser knowingly violates the order in any way.  If the abuser is a minor, the court may hold the parents, guardian, or legal custodian of the minor in civil or criminal contempt for the violation if they directed, encouraged, or assisted the minor in violating the order.*4  A judge can punish someone for being in contempt of court.  To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk's office in the courthouse where the order was originally filed, and ask for the necessary forms.

* 750 ILCS 60/304(a)(1)
*1 750 ILCS 60/301(a)
*2 720 ILCS 5/12-3.4(d)
*3 750 ILCS 60/301(b)
*4 750 ILCS 60/223(b-2)

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back to topHow do I change or extend my order of protection?

Changing your order
To try to change (modify) your order, you will have to go back to the court where the order was issued and file a petition to modify the order with the clerk of court.

You can file to modify an emergency, interim, or plenary order of protection.  If the respondent has abused you since the hearing for your order, you can add or change one or more of the terms (protections) in the order.*  However, even without further abuse, you can file to modify the order to add protections in certain circumstances.**  Note: To read about under what circumstances an order can be modified without further abuse, go to our IL Statutes page and read subsection(b) of section 60/224.

Either you or the respondent can also file to modify decision-making responsibilities, parenting time, and/or support payments that were included in the order of protection.***

Extending your order
Any emergency, interim or plenary order may be extended one or more times, as necessary.****  If you want to extend your order of protection, you must apply for an extension (a motion to modify the order) before your original order expires.  In your motion/affidavit, you would state the reason for the requested extension and you will verify that there has been no material (important) change in relevant circumstances since the order was issued.  If the abuser does not contest (fight) your motion for an extension and you are not asking to change the order, the order can be extended based on your motion.****

* 750 ILCS 60/224(a)(1)
** 750 ILCS 60/224(a)(2)
*** 750 ILCS 60/224(b)
**** 750 ILCS 60/220(e)

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back to topWhat happens if I move? Is my order still effective?

Your order is good throughout Illinois and the United States.  Additionally, the federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.*  If you do move within the state, it might be a good idea to call the clerk to change your address but be sure to tell the clerk that you need it to be kept confidential if the abuser does not know where you are living.

You may also want to call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith and Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order out of state.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2265

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