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A separation, divorce, or parental rights dispute can cause tensions to run high. An emotionally unstable spouse may become abusive when he or she is confronted with possible family changes. Some people choose to leave their spouse or seek full custody of their children precisely because their partner is abusive. Domestic violence is shockingly common in the United States. On average, 10 million men and women are victims of domestic violence each year, and about one in three women and one in four men will be victims of intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Fortunately, there are legal options for those who wish to protect themselves or their children from an abusive partner.
Orders of protection are intended to protect a person from threat of imminent harm. An emergency order of protection is easily acquired and does not require the person seeking the order of protection to give notice to his or her abuser. An emergency order is a short-term measure typically given to a victim by a judge for up to 21 days. This gives the victim time to request a longer-term protection order if necessary.
In Illinois, a plenary order of protection is different from an EPO because it is longer term. A plenary order can last for up to two years and can be renewed upon review when it expires. These protection orders can include various provisions but generally require the alleged abuser to stay away from the victim and/or their children or family.
Sometimes, divorces go badly. It is sadly not unheard of for a person to become violent or dangerous toward his or her ex-spouse, harassing or threatening to a point where an order of protection—sometimes called a restraining order—becomes necessary. If you are pushed to the point where you have had to obtain one, or if you have been served with one, it is necessary to understand how they may affect your co-parenting arrangement.
Anatomy of an Order of Protection
Orders of protection are issued by judges when necessary after a victim files a petition with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the appropriate county—usually where the victim or the alleged abuser lives. In the petition, the victim must explain why he or she feels a restraining order is necessary and go into detail about the abuse or harassment he or she has suffered. The decision of whether or not to grant the order will be up to the judge, but if one is granted, it will probably be an emergency order of protection—at least in the beginning.
Domestic violence continues to plague millions of families throughout Illinois and around the country. Each year, an estimated 10 million women and men are subjected to physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner, which averages to a shocking 20 per minute in the United States. According to the law in Illinois, domestic violence extends well beyond physical abuse, as the term also includes harassment, stalking, intimidation, and other forms of emotional and mental exploitation.
For many victims, filing for an order of protection is the first step toward seeking help and escaping an abusive situation. In Illinois, there are three types of orders of protection, and it is important to know how they each work.
Emergency Order of Protection
An order of protection is a court-issued directive intended to keep the petitioner and his or her children safe from domestic violence. When utilized properly, such orders serve a very important and valuable purpose. Unfortunately, in some cases, an order of protection may be used as a strategy to gain an unfair advantage in a divorce or child-related legal proceedings. Under Illinois law, a pattern of abuse or domestic violence is to be considered when allocating parental responsibilities and parenting time. Therefore, a parent or spouse can use an order of protection—even one issued under arguably questionable pretenses—as an attempt to influence the outcome of his or her case.
Emergency Order of Protection
When dealing with the possibility of domestic violence or abuse, Illinois courts tend to err on the side of caution. With that in mind, the law permits a judge to issue an emergency order of protection based solely on the sworn testimony of the person who filed the petition. Sometimes known as a restraining order, an emergency order of protection can require the subject, or respondent, to avoid contact with the petitioner, to stay away from the marital home, and may temporarily suspend or restrict parenting time rights. There are also many other actions or limitations that may be contained in an emergency order or protection, and the court is expected to include those which are needed to keep the petitioner and his or her children safe.