An Order of Protection, a form of a Restraining Order, is a legal document that protects a person from abuse, harassment, neglect, exploitation, intimidation, and/or willful deprivation. It is enforced by the police, so unlike other Orders that only carry a punishment of contempt of court, a person who violates an Order of Protection can be charged with a criminal offense.
"In our practice, we sometimes see Orders of Protection during divorce and other cases involving children," explained Attorney Erin Webster O'Brien. "These Orders can allow the court to prevent one parent from leaving with and hiding a child by requiring the person to appear in court with the child."
Orders of Protection protect persons abused by family or household members, including high risk adults with disabilities who are abused, neglected, or exploited. "The terms 'family' and 'household members' include former spouses, persons who share or formerly shared a common dwelling, persons that have a child in common, and persons who have or had a dating relationship," said O'Brien. "Personal assistants for persons with disabilities are also included in the definition. An individual can pursue an Order of Protection on behalf of a minor child or an adult with a disability."
According to O'Brien, because an Order of Protection is limited to those with a family, dating, or otherwise intimate relationship, Illinois law also provides for a 'Stalking No Contact Order' for victims who do not meet the relationship requirements. "The initial hearing is typically held with only the testimony of the petitioner requesting the Order of Protection, then an additional hearing is held in which the respondent will be present to testify about his/her side of events," she explained. "The judge will then make a determination as to whether the Order of Protection will be extended for up to two years."
For more information about the details and requirements for obtaining an Order of Protection, and to determine whether you might need one, please contact:
President, Will County Bar Association