Unfortunately, it can become necessary to obtain an order of protection against a spouse or soon-to-be ex. The process can seem a bit overwhelming especially because an abuser uses fear as power. Once a petition is filed for an Order of Protection (often referred to as a PO) a judge will decide whether to issue the order or not based on your statement and evidence. There are a number of reasons a judge will issue an Order of Protection:
- Keep the abuser away from you at your home, place of employment, your child’s school or any other address you want protection.
- Force you abuser to move out of your shared residence if he or she is still with you.
- To determine temporary custody of your child(ren), set up a temporary visitation schedule and temporary support for you and your child(ren).
- Stop the abuser from contacting you except as determined acceptable by the court.
- Give an official order for the abuser to stop from harming, harassing or molesting your or your child(ren).
If the PO is violated by the abuser, you can file a report with the police and the abuser can be arrested.
Don’t confuse an Order of Protection with a Restraining Order or No-Contact Order. The differences are as follows:
- Order of Protection: Needed if there is physical harm or threats made against you. The abuser can be arrested if the order is violated.
- Restraining Order: Prevents one spouse from selling the marital property in a divorce and from harassing or bothering the other. Please note a restraining order will not adequately protection you if you are being physically harmed or threatened. The police cannot arrest the violator.
- No-Contact Order: Issued by a criminal court in criminal cases against an abuser as a condition of release from jail.
The steps to get an Order of Protection are:
- File the Petition – Must be filed at the Circuit Clerk’s office at the county courthouse where you currently live; where the abuser currently lives; where the abuse happened; or if you are forced to stay at a domestic abuse shelter it can be filed in the county of the shelter.
The form (petition) requires you to explain what acts the abuser has committed, detail what he or she did to you physically. You will need to describe threats or physical violence made against you or your child(ren). It is important to note that mental abuse is not a basis for awarding a PO.
It can be extremely difficult for many people to detail the events that led up to filing the PO, but it is very important to detail the abuse to the best of your ability.
- A Temporary Order – After filing the petition and the judge determines you have shown enough information to prove the abuse, he or she will issue a Temporary Order of Protection (also called a Temporary Order or Ex Parte Order). If the judge says you did not have enough information in your petition to grant the PO, you have the right to have a hearing to explain to the judge in person why you need this order.
If the judge gives you a Temporary Order of Protection, be sure to made several copies of the signed order. Keep a copy with you at all times, because if the police are called they will need to see a copy. If the PO incudes your children, take copies to their school or daycare.
Your abuser will be served a copy of the Temporary Order along with a summons that tells him or her when to come to court.
The Temporary Order of Protection is not valid for more than 30 days from the date it is issued.
- Extending the Order – Within the 30 days, a hearing will be held so the judge can decide whether to extend the Temporary Order. You must attend this hearing. Both sides will be allowed to tell their sides. After the judge has heard both sides, he or she will make a decision regarding the extension of the order.
It is not necessary to have an attorney file a petition for a Protective Order, but it is recommended particularly if your abuser has an attorney. Kevin Hickey Law Partners will be with you every step of the way during this very difficult time. We will assist you in filing the proper paperwork and help make this process as easy as possible for you.