Illinois ex-parte order for protection basics

What you need to know when an ex-parte emergency order for protection is issued against you.

Also commonly known as restraining orders, orders for protection prohibit someone in a household or someone romantically involved with the alleged victim from committing further acts of abuse. In some cases, a judge may issue an order for protection without the respondent (the person against whom the order is issued) being present.

If the respondent is not present to defend himself, the order is called an "ex parte" order.

Receiving an ex-parte emergency order for protection can be frightening and frustrating, especially when children are involved and especially around the holidays. It is important, however, to remain calm and to immediately contact an attorney to help you contest the restraining order.

Do not violate an order for protection

It is not possible to immediately remove an emergency order for protection. It is, however, possible to immediately harm your case by violating it.

Ex-parte orders for protection are temporary. But they do carry the full weight of the law behind them. And violations of an order for protection can be quite serious. In Illinois, a violation is a misdemeanor, a separate criminal charge apart from any other criminal charge for abuse that may or may not arise as a result of the allegation.

More on emergency orders

In Illinois, there are three types of orders for protection:

  • Emergency orders for protection
  • Interim orders for protection
  • Plenary orders for protection

Emergency orders for protection prevent the respondent from seeing alleged victims of domestic abuse for a brief period, usually seven to 14 days (until a court hearing can be set). In the emergency order for protection sent to you, the judge will give the reason the order was issued as well as a future court date. As soon as you receive the order for protection, you must follow the orders issued in it.

If you do not appear at the court date set in the order for protection, the judge may issue an interim order for protection or a plenary order for protection, even without you appearing to defend yourself.

An order for protection is not a guilty verdict or the final say in custody matters

One of the most well-known foundational constructs of the U.S. criminal justice system is that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. But an ex-parte emergency order for protection is not a criminal proceeding.

In order to obtain an emergency order for protection, the alleged victim has to show a judge that the harm he or she is trying to prevent would likely happen if the respondent would be notified of the hearing and that it is more likely than not abuse has occurred.

An order for protection issued against you is not the same as a judge finding that domestic abuse has definitively occurred. Nor does an emergency order for protection necessarily mean you will not be granted shared or sole custody of your children.

What to do when an emergency order for protection has been issued against you

If an emergency order for protection has been issued against you, remember the two most important steps to take immediately:

  1. Do not violate the order for protection; obey the judge's orders.
  2. Contact an attorney to discuss the order for protection and how you can contest it.

Need help? Contact The Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd.

If you need help with custody matters, orders for protection, or other family law issue, contact the experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving to discuss your legal options and next steps.