Temporary restraining orders seek to immediately stop harassment, stalking and other acts of aggression against a victim. Illinois judges may issue a temporary order of protection to immediately prohibit individuals from contacting victims or causing further harm.
Victims should learn the legal process for requesting a temporary restraining order and file a petition for a protective order as soon as possible to avoid additional harm.
Determine your eligibility for an Illinois temporary restraining order. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act allows only certain family or household members to petition for an Illinois protective order (see References 1). You may file for a restraining order if the person causing the harm is a blood relative, current or former spouse, or current or former cohabitant. You may also file if you have been engaged to or dated the harasser or have or allegedly have a child together. In addition, anyone who has a disability or acts as a personal assistant to a disabled person may file a petition against a person in the same family or household.
Visit your county circuit court clerk. You can have a lawyer do this for you. However, filing for a restraining order in Illinois for protection is free. You can petition the court by yourself if you do not want to hire a lawyer. Use the contact information for Illinois circuit court clerks on the Illinois Courts website if you need directions to the clerk's office (see Resources).
Tell the personnel at the court clerk's office that you want to file an emergency order of protection. You may obtain this emergency order if you can convince the judge that giving notice to the abuser before the order takes effect will cause you further harm. The clerk's office will provide a petition form for the order of protection. For example, Cook County has its own filing forms and information for domestic violence (see References 2). Each county has its own local forms for filing a petition.
Fill out the petition for a protective order. Make sure you complete the information for an emergency order of protection. The clerk's office will then tell you which courtroom to visit to obtain the protective order.
Go to the courtroom and hand over the petition to the courtroom clerk. The judge will ask you questions. Explain that you fear for your safety and need an emergency order. The judge will issue the order if your situation warrants an immediate order of protection. The sheriff then serves the order. You do not have to contact the sheriff. The court will directly forward the emergency order of protection to the sheriff's office to give notice to the abuser.
An emergency order of protection lasts from only 14 to 21 days (see Resources). If the abuser responds to the notice, the court will schedule a hearing. You must show up to this hearing and be ready to testify if you wish to extend the order. The judge can then issue an interim order of up to 30 days or a plenary order of up to two years.
You may get a protective order if the abuser is already involved in a criminal trial related to the abuse. Ask the state's attorney prosecuting the case to petition the court for an order. The state's attorney will handle the entire process for you.
Call the police if you are the victim of stalking or violence. You need to press criminal charges if you do not qualify for an order of protection.
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