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What is An Order of Protection? Chicago Family Law

Domestic violence is a criminal offense in Illinois, but can also be addressed civility, and is defined as the stalking, physical abuse, threatening, harassing, or interfering with the personal liberty of another family or household member. Physical abuse in this context can include hitting, choking or kicking the other person. A family or household member is defined as a spouse, former spouse, parent, child, stepchild and other person related by blood or by present or prior marriage. Additionally, it can also include dating couples, roommates, and other people.

Protection from Domestic Violence

Victims of domestic violence need protection from the abuser, and in addition to calling the police, a victim can petition a judge for a civil order of protection. Orders of protection are court orders issued against an abusive family or household member. An order of protection can be issued as an emergency, without notice, if warranted.  Emergency orders last from 14 to 21 days, temporary or interim orders last for 30 days, while plenary orders of protection can last up to 2 years. A domestic violence victim can request an order of protection in civil court during a divorce or as an independent court action through a private attorney, or request one as part of a criminal prosecution by an assistant state’s attorney.

When an order of protection is entered, it can restrict the abuser in several ways. The order may require the abuser to do or keep from doing a range of things, including the following:

  • Stop abusing the victim;
  • Vacate a home shared with the domestic violence victim – the abuser can be ordered to vacate the home even if he or she owns it if the victim also has a right to live there;
  • Keep the abuser from the victim’s workplace, children’s schools or other locations;
  • Stay away from the victim and his or her children;
  • Attend counseling; and
  • Return children the abuser may be hiding from the victim – if the victim is awarded custody.

Should a person who is subject to an order of protection violate it by contacting a victim, or refusing to leave the home if so ordered, the victim can call the police. Violating an order of protection is a crime in Illinois, and depending on a person’s criminal history, it can be a misdemeanor or a felony. An attorney acting on behalf of the victim can also petition a court to find a person in contempt of court for violating an order of protection.

Sometimes a person can claim to be a victim of domestic violence in order to gain leverage in a divorce or other proceeding. If a person makes false statements in an attempt to get an order of protection, they can be liable for any expenses the person accused of domestic violence incurs in connection with the accusations, including attorney’s fees. In addition, the State’s Attorney may prosecute the accuser for perjury.

Contact a Chicago Divorce Attorney

If you need an Order of Protection to protect you from an abusive spouse or other individual, or if an Order of Protection has been against you, contact an experienced Chicago divorce attorneys and family law attorneys at M. Scott Gordon & Associates for a consultation today.