How to Get a Restraining Order in Chicago

By Rebecca Rogge
Restraining orders can help keep you safe from violence.
handcuffs image by William Berry from Fotolia.com

In Chicago, Illinois, restraining orders are known as "orders of protection." An order of protection is a court order designed to stop violent and harassing behavior, and protect you and your family from abuse. Among other things, protection orders can tell the abuser to stop harassing, stalking, and intimidating you, and interfering with your personal liberty. Protection orders make the abuser refrain from any and all forms of contact, and reimburse you for losses suffered because of abuse.

Go to the circuit court near your residence, the abuser's residence, or where the the abuse occurred. (If you are requesting possession of a shared domicile, go to the court in the county where domicile is located.)

Request a petition for an emergency order of protection from the circuit court clerk, or, if you are not in immediate danger, request a petition for a plenary order. (Plenary orders are issued following a court hearing wherein you and the abuser both have the opportunity to testify. These provide the most protection, and can be issued for up to two years, and renewed as often as necessary.)

Fill out the petition, describing the most recent incident of violence, and using specific words, such as "threatening," "slapping," or "choking." Cite any prior court action you may have taken against the abuser.

You must give your name, a mailing address, and a phone number, but you may request the address not be disclosed.

Give the completed petition to the court clerk, who will forward it to a judge for review. The judge will decide whether to issue the emergency order, and may ask you further questions to determine your need for a protection order.

The judge will set a court date for a hearing for a plenary order, typically within two to three weeks. You will be issued papers stating the time and date of your hearing. The abuser will be served with a notice of hearing.

Prior to the hearing, contact any eyewitnesses; if necessary, you may subpoena these witnesses to appear.

Attain any evidences of abuse possible. This can include medical or police reports, pictures (preferably dated) of your injuries, weapons, a calendar or diary documenting abuse, or pictures of your household in disarray after a violent incident.

Practice your testimony, preferably in front of another person. This can help make you less nervous, help keep details straight in your mind, and help you present your case in a clear, organized way.

Attend the hearing. If you do not, the emergency order will be canceled, and you will have to start the process over.

If the abuser does not show up, the judge may automatically grant a plenary order, or order a new hearing date.

If the judge grants the final protection order, obtain a copy, review it, and ask the judge any questions you may have. If the judge does not give an immediate decision, request an extension of your emergency restraining order, if applicable.