1. Make sure you are safe
The first thing you need to do is make sure you are safe. Domestic violence victims are most likely to be attacked when they leave the abuser and/or when they seek legal help. The following article has information on how to create a Security plan for victims of domestic violence. The plan can increase your safety and prepare you in advance for violence that may happen in the future. You don't have control over your partner's violence, but you do have a choice about how to respond, and how best to get you and your loved ones to safety.
3. Fill out Order of Protection forms
Use the program below to fill out the 3 forms you need to file an Order of Protection. Make 3 copies of each form.
- Order of Protection: Petition, summons, and order for getting someone to stop abusing or harassing you.
Your petition tells the judge what you are asking for and why. You must write about the abuse you experienced. Include as many details that you can remember. The judge will use the information in your petition to decide whether to give you the order.
Include in the description of the abuse:
- What the abuser did and said;
- The dates and time of day of the abuse. If you do not remember, then give an estimate;
- Where the abuse happened;
- Who saw or heard the abuse. Be sure to mention if your children were there;
- If you were hurt from the abuse;
- If the police were called;
- How the abuse made you feel; and
- If there was anything that stopped you from coming to court sooner.
Make sure to include details about what has happened most recently that made you feel like you need an order.
If you believe giving your home address will put you or any people you live with at a risk of abuse, you do not have to put your address on your court papers. You do have to put an address where you can receive mail in case the abuser files any court papers. You can use a P.O. Box, work address, or the address of a family member or friend that the abuser knows.
4. File your forms with the court
Now that you have filled out your forms, take the following actions:
- File the forms with the circuit clerk at the courthouse in the county where you live, where the abuser lives, or where the events happened. You may be able to file online. Check your local circuit clerk's website to see if online filing is an option. The circuit clerk will not charge you a fee to file your forms.
- The circuit clerk will stamp and keep the original forms. Have the circuit clerk also stamp the extra copies of your forms. Keep a copy for your records.
The judge will hear your case for an Emergency Order without the abuser present. The judge will read your Petition for an Order of Protection. The judge may ask you questions about the abuser, about details of the abuse, and about your children. The judge will then decide if an Emergency Order is necessary. They will set a hearing date for a Plenary Order of Protection. A Plenary Order of Protection is a long-term order of protection.
5. Get the sheriff to tell the other party about your case
The clerk will take the court documents to the sheriff's office, or ask you to do so. The sheriff will serve the petition and summons to the abuser, along with the Emergency Order of Protection, if one was granted. The sheriff's office keeps a copy of the order on file.
The abuser must obey the order once they receive it from the sheriff. The sheriff won't charge you to deliver a copy of your court papers to the abuser.
You will have a court date later where the judge will decide if you should be given a Plenary Order of Protection, which can last for up to 2 years.
6. Go to the hearing
After you file the Order of Protection forms, you must go to a hearing. If you do not show up to the hearing, the judge may cancel the petition and you will have to start over. The judge may not be as willing to grant you a plenary order if you miss your first court date.
At your hearing, you and the abuser will be allowed to talk to the judge. You can bring witnesses or evidence to help you explain why you need a Plenary Order of Protection. Examples of evidence are medical records from an emergency room visit, or pictures showing abuse, like holes in a wall, or bruises.
If the abuser does not come to the hearing, the judge can still issue a plenary order or reschedule the hearing. If the judge reschedules the hearing, the judge will usually extend your emergency order. If the judge holds the hearing, the judge will extend your Order of Protection until the next court date.
If you win the hearing, the judge will enter a Plenary Order of Protection. The end date will be listed on your Order of Protection. Read the order before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.
Make a few copies of the order, and always keep one with you. Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order. You can also leave copies of the order at:
- Your workplace
- At your home
- At your children's school or daycare
- In your car
- With a neighbor
- At work
The court will tell the sheriff about the order, which will be posted so law enforcement agencies in Illinois know that it must be given to your abuser. The order can only be enforced after your abuser has been notified that there is an order.
If your abuser violates the order, you should call the police and make a police report. If you do not have a copy of the order with you, an officer can check their computer system and see if there is an order. You should keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
An abuser who disobeys an Order of Protection can be arrested and charged with a crime.