During the course of a divorce, it sometimes becomes necessary for one party to file an Order of Protection (OOP) against the other. An OOP is a court order which will provide protection for victims of domestic abuse. In a divorce situation the victim is typically a spouse, and in some cases an OOP may also provide protection for the children. It is important to understand the basic requirements that must be met and to know where to find the resources in your area to obtain an OOP.
Regardless of the county in which you live, in order to file an OOP it is necessary to fit into certain criteria. These criteria may have minor variations depending on where you reside. For the purposes of this article, the focus will be on DuPage County in Illinois, one of the counties served by the Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix.
Requirements to Obtain an Order of Protection
There are three basic requirements for an OOP case. First, the person who you are pursuing an OOP against (or the Respondent) must be related to you in one of the following ways: a spouse, former spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, currently sharing a residence with you or have in the past, your legal caretaker, you have a child together or they are a family member (i.e. parent, child, sibling, step-parent, step child). An OOP only covers these types of domestic relationships, however, there are other Orders you may be able to obtain if you do not meet this criterion.
The second criterion for receiving an OOP stems from what the Order aims to prevent, which is future abuse. This means that there must have been an incident of abuse, harassment or stalking committed against you by the Respondent. Generally, the OOP should be filed within 72 hours of the incident. If there has not been a recent incident, the Respondent must have a history of abuse, and you must believe that there will be future incidents. Previous police reports or prior action taken against the person are not required, but referencing a police report or incident number in your filing can greatly help your case. Finally, it is necessary to seek an OOP in the appropriate county. Usually, it is best to go to the courthouse in the county where you live, or where the abuse happened. In DuPage County, your situation will determine where you go to file an OOP. When you have a pending divorce case, you should first consult with your family or divorce attorney before filing an OOP. Many times there may be related issues including custody and visitation through which your attorney will guide you.
Completing the Order Of Protection Paperwork
Regardless of what county you are in, when completing the OOP paperwork you will be asked about your residence and employer’s address, and information about where your children go to school. You will need to provide information about the person you are seeking the Order against, such as their residence and employer’s address, physical description, relation to your children, and whether or not they own any firearms. Finally, you will detail all incidents of abuse the person has committed against you or your children. It is important to supply any and all information, current and past, that factually supports the incident that occurred. The necessary petition to be completed to begin the process is available at www.illinoisprotectionorder.org.
You will also be asked what you are requesting from the judge; whether it be an Order for the Respondent to stay a certain distance away from you and the children, a no-contact Order, or both. Once complete, you will be taken before a judge to request the Order be issued. At this point the Judge will sign and place the Order in effect for approximately 21 days, and it will be served upon the Respondent by a Sheriff at either their home or place of work. If you have indicated that the Respondent owns firearms, they may be required to surrender them to the sheriff pending the hearing on this matter. After being served, if they are found in violation, they can be arrested. At the end of the 21 day period, a hearing is held and both parties will be required to go before the judge. At this time, depending on the circumstances of the parties and the evidence presented, the OOP will either expire or be extended for up to two years.
How to Proceed with an Order of Protection
Pursuing an OOP is serious and is meant to protect against abuse, and is not a means to threaten or harass your spouse. If it is found that you abuse the filing of an OOP, or file them without proper cause, the Respondent may have legal remedies to pursue damages against you.
However, many times filing an OOP does become necessary, and if you are considering pursuing an OOP, your situation is serious. It is important to remember that if you believe you or your children are in danger, you are not required to wait until you have an OOP on file. You can always contact the police for immediate help or protection.
If you feel you are ready to pursue an OOP, you can get started online at www.illinoisprotectionorder.org. For more assistance with Orders of Protection outside of a pending divorce case, please refer to the following:
If there is a pending criminal case against the abuser, the victim may be eligible for assistance from the State’s Attorney’s Office, Victim Services Unit available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at (630) 407-8010.
When you are the victim of domestic abuse, but there is no criminal or civil case pending, you can still obtain assistance filing an Independent OOP, which offers the same protection as OOPs connected to criminal or civil cases. In DuPage County, contact the court advocacy division of the Family Shelter Service at (630) 407-8813.
Additional information about OOPs in DuPage County, Illinois is available through the 24-hour Family Shelter Service hotline at (630) 221-8290 or online at www.familyshelterservice.org.