Domestic violence or abuse can sometimes occur in family situations. If you are being abused or harassed, or if you feel you are in danger of harm, you have recourse under the law. You can obtain an Order of Protection from the court to prevent the abuser from harassing or harming you.
What is an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is a court order issued to protect one person from another where there has been a family-type relationship between the two. The purpose of this type of order is to prevent domestic abuse. An Order of Protection is designed to prevent a person from engaging in any activity that could affect your safety and security. In many cases, the court will order the person who has been abusing or harassing you to either stop all contact or limit contact with you. If your spouse has been abusive, you can obtain an order removing him or her from your residence and prohibiting contact.
Why is it important to get an Order of Protection in cases of domestic abuse?
When the court issues an Order of Protection, it gives the police authority to get involved if harassment, intimidation, or violent behavior occurs in the future. If your ex-spouse or partner threatens you when an Order of Protection is in place, police officers can make an arrest. The court may also order the person you are being protected from to surrender firearms, complete a domestic violence program, or take other steps to help ensure your safety.
Who can petition the court for an Order of Protection?
You can successfully petition the court for an Order of Protection if you:
- Have been abused by a family member or member of your household. (In this context, abuse goes beyond physical attacks.)
- Are filing on behalf of a minor child or adult who is unable to file, due to age, health, disability, or inaccessibility, who has been abused by a family member or household member.
- Are filing on behalf of a high-risk, disabled adult who has been neglected, abused, or exploited by a family member or household member.
Who are family and household members for purposes of Orders of Protection?
Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, family or household members are defined as:
- Spouses, former spouses, children, stepchildren, parents, and any persons related either by blood or by a current or former marriage;
- People who have a child in common (actually or allegedly) or share a blood relationship through a child;
- People who previously shared or currently share a common dwelling;
- People who are dating, have dated, or have been engaged; and
- People with disabilities and their caregivers and personal assistants.
What constitutes abuse for Illinois Orders of Protection?
To obtain an Order of Protection, you must demonstrate that either you or a child on whose behalf you are filing has been abused by the person from whom you are seeking protection (respondent). For this purpose, abuse is defined as: physical abuse, harassment, interference with personal liberty, intimidation of a dependent, or willful deprivation. These terms are all fully defined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. As an example, physical abuse includes physical force, confinement, restraint, sleep deprivation, reckless conduct creating an immediate risk of physical harm, threatening with weapons, or forcing a person to have unwanted sexual relations.
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