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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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Who can get an order of protection

back to topWho is eligible for an order of protection?

You can file an order of protection against a family or household member who has committed acts of domestic violence against you or your minor child.  Also, the following other people may apply: any high-risk adult with disabilities who is abused, neglected, or exploited by a family or household member; any minor child or dependent adult in the care of such person; and 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.*

You can file for an order of protection for yourself and/or your minor child(ren).  A minor may also be able to file on his/her own.  See Can a minor file for an order of protection? for more information.

Also, anyone can file a petition on behalf of:
  • a minor child or an adult who has been abused by a family or household member who cannot file a petition because of age, health, disability or inaccessibility; or
  • a high-risk adult with disabilities who has been abused, neglected, or exploited by a family or household member.**
* 750 ILCS 60/201(a)
** 750 ILCS 60/201(b)

 

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back to topWhat is the definition of a family or household member?

A family or household member includes a:

  • spouse or ex-spouse;
  • boyfriend or girlfriend, or someone you date or used to date;
  • parent, step-parent or grandparent;
  • child or step-child;
  • person who you have a child in common with, even if you have never been married to the other parent nor lived together;
  • person who you share or allegedly share a blood relationship with through a child (such as your child’s grandfather);
  • person related to you by blood or by your present or former marriage;
  • person who you live with or have lived with in the past; and/or
  • your personal assistant or caregiver if you are disabled.*
* 750 ILCS 60/103(6)

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back to topCan I file for an order of protection against a same-sex partner?

In Illinois, you may apply for an order of protection against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who is eligible for an order of protection?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Illinois?

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back to topCan a minor file for an order of protection?

Illinois law states that a person will not be denied an order of protection simply because s/he is a minor filing for an order without an adult.*  Sometimes a minor is able to get an order of protection without an adult. However, it may be more difficult to do so when the minor is filing against a parent or legal guardian.  For instance, in Cook County, there is a court rule that states minors must have a parent or guardian filing on their behalf.**

* 750 ILCS 60/214(a)
** Circuit Court of Cook County website

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back to topHow much does an order of protection cost? Do I need a lawyer?

There are no fees for filing for an order of protection or for having the papers served on the abuser by the sheriff.  Also, the court clerk cannot charge a fee for filing, amending (changing), vacating (dismissing), certifying, or photocopying petitions or order of protection.*

You do not need a lawyer to file for an order of protection. However, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If you can, contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.  If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information for low-cost legal assistance on the IL Finding a Lawyer page.

Domestic violence organizations in your area may also be able to help you through the legal process, or may be able to give you a lawyer referral.

* 750 ILCS 60/202(b)

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The protections offered in each kind of order

back to topHow can an emergency order of protection help me?

In an emergency order, the judge can order the abuser to:

  1. not harass, abuse, stalk, intimidate, physically abuse, neglect or exploit you and not interfere with your personal liberty;
  2. stay away from you or anyone else protected by the order;
  3. stay away from your school, job, or other specific places when you are there;
  4. not take your child out of state and not hide the child within the state;
  5. appear in court with or without your minor child in order to prevent abuse, neglect, removal, or hiding of the child; return the child to your custody/care (and the judge can give you physical care or possession of your child); and/or order the abuser to not remove the child from your physical care;
  6. not take, transfer, hide, damage or get rid of your personal property or property that you co-own with the abuser;
  7. leave or stay away from the residence while s/he is under the influence of alcohol or drugs if it causes a threat to the safety of you or your children;
  8. give up his/her guns, not possess any firearms and turn over any firearm owner’s identification card to local law enforcement until the order of protection expires;
  9. not have access to school or any other records of a child in your care;
  10. reimburse a shelter for your housing and counseling services if applicable;
  11. exclude the abuser from the home where you are living, even if the home is owned or leased by the abuser;*1 and
  12. give you possession of personal property that you solely or jointly own with the abuser.*2
Note: To get the protections listed in numbers 1 – 10 above, the judge must believe that you would likely suffer the harm that the order is trying to protect you from if the abuser was given prior notice of your petition.

To get exclusive possession of the home (listed in #11), the judge must believe that there would be an immediate danger of further abuse by the respondent if s/he was given prior notice and if that immediate danger outweighs the hardship to the respondent of being ordered out of his/her home.*1  See Can I stay in the home that I share with the abuser while I have an emergency order even if I have another place to go? for more information.

To get the possession of personal property (listed in #12), the judge must believe that the respondent would likely get rid of your personal property if s/he were given prior notice or that you have an immediate and pressing need for possession of the property.*2  See What happens to my personal property when I get an emergency order? for more information.

Note: An emergency order will not include an order for counseling, legal custody, support payments, or reimbursing you for costs/damages.*2

* 750 ILCS 60/217(a)(3)(i)
*1 750 ILCS 60/217(a)(3)(ii)
*2 750 ILCS 60/217(a)(3)(iii)

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back to topHow can an interim order of protection help me?

An interim order can include all of the protections that you can get in a plenary (final) order of protection except it cannot include an order for counseling, decision-making responsibilities (legal custody), support payments, or reimbursing you for costs/damages unless the abuser has filed a general appearance in court or s/he has been personally served.*  For more information, see How can a plenary order of protection help me?

Note: If the abuser appears in court (files a general appearance), s/he will have the right to testify during this hearing.**

* 750 ILCS 60/218(a)
** 750 ILCS 60/218(b)

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back to topHow can a plenary order of protection help me?

A plenary order of protection can order the abuser to:

  • not harass, abuse, stalk, intimidate, physically abuse, neglect or exploit you and not interfere with your personal liberty;
  • be excluded from the home where you are living, even if the home is owned or leased by the abuser;
  • stay away from you or anyone else protected by the order;
  • stay away from your school, job, or other specific places when you are there;
  • leave or stay away from the residence while s/he is under the influence of alcohol or drugs if it causes a threat to the safety of you or your children;
  • stop attending the same public, private, or non-public elementary, middle or high school attended by you.* (Note: See If the abuser and I attend the same school, can I still get an order against him/her? for more information on this scenario.);
  • undergo psychological, substance abuse, or batterers' counseling;
  • not take your child out of state and not hide the child within the state;
  • appear in court with or without your minor child in order to prevent abuse, neglect, removal, or hiding of the child; return the child to your custody/care; and/or order the abuser to not remove the child from your physical care;
  • not take, transfer, hide, damage or get rid of your personal property or property that you co-own with the abuser;
  • pay temporary support for you and/or any child in your care if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so;
  • reimburse you for losses suffered as a result of abuse, such as medical expenses, lost earnings, repairs to damaged property, reasonable attorney fees and court costs, moving and traveling costs (including the costs of temporary shelter and restaurant meals), and the cost of finding/recovering your child if s/he improperly hid or took your child;
  • give up his/her guns, not possess any firearms and turn over any firearm owner’s identification card to local law enforcement until the order of protection expires;
  • not have access to school or any other records of a minor child in your care;
  • reimburse a shelter for your housing and counseling services if applicable; and/or
  • anything else necessary to prevent further abuse.*

A plenary order of protection can give you:

  • physical care and possession of your minor child;**
  • temporary decision-making responsibility (legal custody) of your child (and the judge can determine temporary parenting time for the abuser, if any);*** Note: For more information, see Can the abuser be denied parenting time as part of an order of protection?
  • sole possession of your own personal property if the abuser has control over it or sole possession of property that is co-owned by you and the abuser if:
    • sharing the property would put you at risk of abuse or it is impracticable to share it; and
    • when balancing the hardship to both parties, it favors you getting the property.  Note: The decision about who gets possession of the property does not affect title (ownership) of the property.**** Note: If you only want to receive possession of joint marital property, the judge may give you temporary possession only if a proper proceeding has been filed under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act; and/or
  • custody of any animal owned by you, the abuser or your child (even if your child lives with the abuser) and order the abuser to stay away from the animal and forbid the abuser from taking, harming, or getting rid of the animal.*

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

* 750 ILCS 60/214(b)
** 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(5)
*** 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(6)
**** 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(10)

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back to topCan I stay in the home that I share with the abuser while I have an emergency order even if I have another place to go?

Possibly, yes.  If the judge believes that you are in immediate danger of further abuse by the abuser* and this immediate danger outweighs the hardship to him/her of being removed from the home, the judge may give you exclusive possession of home, which means the abuser will be prohibited from entering or staying in the home.  The judge can order this even if the abuser owns or leases the home as long as you have a “right to live in the home,” which means that one of the following is true:

  • the home is solely or jointly owned or leased by
    • you,
    • your spouse,
    • someone who has a legal duty to support you or your child; or
  • the home is owned by anyone other than the abuser who allows you to stay there.**
If you have another place to stay, the abuser can still be excluded from the home unless the hardship to him/her caused by being removed from the home would substantially outweigh the hardship to you if you had to stay somewhere else.*

Note: If the judge prohibits the abuser from entering or staying in the residence, this does not affect his/her ownership of the home.***

* 750 ILCS 60/217(a)(3)(ii)
** 750 ILCS 60/217(a)(3)(ii), 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(2)(A)
*** 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(2)

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back to topIf the abuser and I have both the right to live in the home, how will the judge decide who gets to stay there?

If you and the abuser both have a right to live in the home, the judge will balance the hardship to the abuser (and any minor child or dependent adult in the abuser’s care) that would come from him/her being excluded against the hardship that would be caused to you (and any minor child or dependent adult in your care) if the abuser were not excluded.  The judge will consider whether allowing the abuser to remain in the home may result in:

  • your continued risk of abuse (if you stay in the home with the abuser); or
  • great difficulty to you if you have to find a new place to stay.*
The judge will favor possession by you, unless the abuser shows that the hardship to him/her is substantially more than your hardship (or any minor child or dependent adult in your care).  Note: The judge will not balance the hardship if the abuser does not have a right to live in the residence.*

* 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(2)(B)

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back to topWhat happens to my personal property when I get an emergency order?

If the judge believes that the abuser will take/destroy your personal property if s/he were given prior notice of your petition for the order of protection, the judge can give you possession of personal property that you own alone or that you and the abuser own jointly.  This does not affect the title (ownership) of the property, however.*

To get possession of shared property that you co-own with the abuser, the judge must believe that:

  • sharing the property would put you at risk of abuse or it is impracticable to share it; and
  • when balancing the hardship to both parties, it favors you getting the property.**
Note: If you only want to receive possession of joint marital property, the judge may give you temporary possession only if a proper proceeding has been filed under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.**   For more information on this, you may want to consult with a lawyer.  Go to our IL Finding a Lawyer page for more info.

* 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(2)
** 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(10)

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back to topCan the abuser be denied parenting time as part of an order of protection?

Yes.  Parenting time can be denied if the judge believes that the respondent has done or is likely to do any of the following:

  • abuse or endanger the child during visitation;
  • use the visitation as an opportunity to abuse or harass you, your family or household members;
  • improperly hide or keep the child; or
  • otherwise act in a way that is not in the best interests of the child.*

Also, even if the abuser is granted parenting time, you can refuse to allow him/her to see the minor child if when the abuser arrives for parenting time:

  • s/he is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and is a threat to the safety and well-being of you or your children; or
  • s/he is behaving in a violent or abusive manner.*  

However, we strongly suggest that you talk to an attorney about the proper way to document either of these behaviors so that you are not accused of wrongly interfering with the parenting time order.   Go to our IL Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.

* 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(7)

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back to topIf the abuser and I attend the same school, can I still get an order against him/her?

Yes, but there are many factors the judge must consider first.  When you and the abuser attend the same public, private, or non-public elementary, middle, or high school, the judge has to consider:

  • how severe the abuse was;
  • any continuing physical danger or emotional distress to you;
  • the educational rights guaranteed to both you and the abuser by law;
  • the availability of the abuser getting a transfer to another school;
  • a change of placement/ program of the abuser;
  • the expense, difficulty, and educational disruption that would be caused by a transfer of the abuser to another school; and
  • any other relevant facts of the case.*
After considering the above factors, the judge can order that the abuser:
  • not attend the public, private, or non-public elementary, middle, or high school attended by the you;
  • accept a change of placement/program, as determined by the school district or private or non-public school; or
  • place restrictions on the abuser's movements within the school you attend.*  Note: The parents, guardian, or legal custodian of the abuser are responsible for transportation and other costs associated with the transfer or change.*
The abuser has the burden to prove that a transfer or change of placement/ program is not available to him/her or to prove the expense, difficulty, and educational disruption that would be caused by a transfer to another school.  S/he cannot claim a transfer or change of placement/change of program is unavailable based on:
  • the fact that s/he does not like the one offered by the school district or private or non-public school; or
  • the fact that s/he did not qualify for a transfer due to his/her failure to take whatever actions were required to complete the transfer or change of placement/program.* 
* 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(3)(B)

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Steps for getting an order of protection

back to topStep 1: Go to circuit court and request a petition.

Go to the circuit court where you live, where the abuser lives, or where the abuse occurred.*  You can find a court near you by going to our IL Courthouse Locations page.  Note: If you are requesting exclusive possession of the home you share, you would generally go to the court in the county where that home is located but there are exceptions that may allow you to file in a neighboring county.**   Go to In which county can I file for an order of protection? for more information.

When in court, find the circuit court clerk and request a petition for an emergency order of protection.  The clerk will give you the forms, and may recommend that you work with a domestic violence legal advocate.

You may also be able to find the forms you need online through our IL Download Court Forms page.

Note: It may also be useful to bring identifying information about the abuser such as a photo (which may be used in serving the order to respondent); addresses of the abuser's residence and employment; a description and plate number of the abuser's car; and information about his/her gun ownership.

* 750 ICLS 60/209(a)
** 750 ICLS 60/209(a)(2); 750 ICLS 60/214(b)(2)

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back to topStep 2: Fill out the petition.

Carefully fill out the petition.  On the petition, you will be the petitioner and the abuser will be the respondent.  Write about the most recent incident of violence, using descriptive language (words like "slapping," "hitting," "grabbing," "choking," "threatening," etc.) that fit your situation.  Include details and dates, if possible.  Be specific.

When giving your address, you can ask that your address be kept confidential.  You may also ask that the school(s) you or your children attend also be kept confidential if that would put you or your children in danger.  If you are staying at a shelter, give their post office box (P.O. box), not a street address.

If you need assistance filling out the forms, you may be able to ask questions to the clerk.  Some courts may have an advocate that can assist you.*  A domestic violence organization may also be able to provide you with help filling out the forms.  See the IL State and Local Programs page for the location of an organization near you.

* 750 ILCS 60/205

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back to topStep 3: A judge will review your petition.

After you finish filling out your petition, bring it to the court clerk – you may have to sign the petition in front of the clerk to get it notarized.  The clerk will forward it to a judge.  The judge may wish to ask you questions as s/he reviews your petition.  The judge will decide whether or not to issue the emergency order, and will set a date for a full court hearing for the plenary order.  You will be given papers that state the time and date of your hearing for a plenary order.

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back to topStep 4: Service of process

The abuser must be served with a notice of the hearing date and with any emergency or interim orders that a judge has granted you before s/he may be charged with violating the order.  Generally, the sheriff or other law enforcement will serve the summons and order upon the abuser but it is also possible that a "special process server" can be appointed to serve the papers.  However, in counties with a population over 3,000,000, a special process server cannot be appointed if the order of protection grants the surrender of a child, the surrender of a firearm or firearm owners identification card, or the exclusive possession of a shared residence.* 

There is no charge to have law enforcement serve the abuser.**  The abuser may only be arrested for violating the order after s/he has been given notice that the order exists and is in effect.***

You can ask the court clerk or a domestic violence organization for more information about serving the abuser.  Do not try and serve the abuser with the papers yourself.

* 750 ILCS 60/210(c)
** 750 ILCS 60/202(b)
*** 720 ILCS 5/12-3.4(2)

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back to topStep 5: The hearing

You must go to the hearing if you want to keep your order of protection.  If you do not go to the hearing, your emergency or interim order will be canceled, and you will have to start the process over.  If you do not show up at the hearing, it may be harder for you to be granted an order in the future.

If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a plenary order or the judge may order a new hearing date.*

See the Preparing Your Case section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused.

* 750 ILCS 60/210(f)

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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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