What Are Legal Rights as a Victim of Domestic Violence?

domestic violenceEvery area of your life is affected if you are a victim of domestic violence. You should be aware of the legal rights you have as a domestic violence victim. The State of Illinois offers legal remedies based on state law, including, but not limited to, temporary restraining orders, orders of protection, charges for parental kidnapping, as well as other crimes. Included in this post are some topics that will assist you as you regain your safety, confidence and rebuild your life.

Temporary Restraining Orders and Orders of Protection

A Temporary Restraining Order is a temporary order issued by the Court that prohibits an individual from carrying out a particular action, such as approaching or contacting a specific person. These orders are often granted in the context of a divorce or parental allocation proceeding as a form of temporary relief. The Court can prohibit a party from striking or interfering with the personal liberty of the other party, from removing a child from the State and/or from transferring, liquidating or concealing marital property (such as bank accounts, credit cards, etc.).

An Order For Protection is a court order that is designed to protect a victim from domestic violence. Anyone in a family or household can ask the court for an Order For Protection. Because court procedures vary, local court rules need to be consulted. The family or household members can be married, divorced, parents, children and persons who are blood relatives, as well as people who live together or have lived together. Additionally, people who have never lived together may also request an order if they have a child together, have been involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship.

Steps for Obtaining an Order of Protection

Visit a local court – take identification with you and identifying information, such as a photo, of the abuser. Fill out a petition by providing a description of the most recent incident of the abuse by including specific details. A judge will then review the petition and will decide whether or not to issue the emergency order and will then set a date for the court hearing. Next, you will be given papers stating the date and time of your court hearing.

Kidnapping by a Parent

Often times, the other parent will take children without consent. In order to prepare for this situation, you may ask a judge to issue an emergency order or a temporary restraining order (also explained above). To obtain this order, you may need to prove that the children are in danger or that the other parent is deliberately concealing the child from you. Another option is to ask the judge to include in a temporary order that the other parent cannot take the children out of the state without consent, or that the other parent may have only supervised parenting time. Be advised that you should explain your situation to a lawyer and get advice on which option is best for your family as this issue, in particular, is heavily intertwined with Illinois statutes on parental allocation of responsibilities, divorce and parenting time interference.

Protection in Your Workplace

Illinois state law provides employment protection for domestic violence victims who need to take time off from work to handle issues related to domestic violence. This includes any household member who is a victim of domestic violence. You may take unpaid leave from work to address domestic or sexual violence. An employer needs at least a forty-eight hour advance notice of your intention to take time off and a total of twelve work weeks of leave can be used during any twelve-month period. Additionally, the twelve weeks can be taken at different times or as a reduction in a regular schedule.

Other Crimes

If an abuser has committed a crime, the police can be called to arrest

him/her for a crime. Remember that even if you do have an order of protection, you must still report the offender to the police if you believe that person has committed a crime against you and/or if they violated the Order of Protection.

Some Instances of Crimes by an Abuser – WomensLaw.org*

  • Unlawful visitation or parenting time interference
  • Child abduction
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful restraint
  • Assault
  • Aggravated assault
  • Battery
  • Domestic battery
  • Aggravated domestic battery
  • Intimidation
  • Stalking
  • Cyberstalking
  • Violation of an order of protection
  • Criminal trespass to real property
  • Unlawful use or possession of weapons
  • Unlawful possession of firearms and firearm ammunition
  • Harassment by telephone
  • Harassment through electronic communications

If you believe you are a victim of domestic violence, do not hesitate to contact our attorneys at Sherer Law Offices. We understand your situation and have the legal knowledge to best guide you through your situation.

* About WomensLaw.org
© 2008 National Network to End Domestic Violence, Inc. All rights reserved. This website is funded in part through a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this website (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided.

Obtaining a Restraining Order – How Do I Get The Process Started?

restraining-orderAn order of protection (also sometimes called a restraining order) is a civil court order that can be requested against a member of your family or household who is abusing, harassing or intimidating you, or interfering with your personal property.  A restraining order can also be obtained to protect a minor child or a disabled adult from abuse or neglect.

Types of Restraining Orders

There are three types of orders of protection.  For temporary, short-term protection, you can request an emergency order or interim order. For longer-term protection, you will need a plenary order.  An emergency order typically lasts for 2-3 weeks and an interim order can be obtained to protect you in between the time that your emergency order expires and when you can appear in court for the plenary order.

Steps for Obtaining a Restraining Order

For expert guidance on protecting yourself or a loved one from harm, contact Sherer Law Offices to help get the process started.  We will help you complete all necessary paperwork and provide you with advice on effectively obtaining an order of protection. This can be a complicated process, so we strongly urge you to let us help you.

If you choose to petition for the order yourself, these are the steps you will need to complete:

1. Go to your local circuit court and find the circuit court clerk.

Request a petition for an emergency order of protection. The clerk will give you forms to complete. It is useful to bring the following information about the abuser:

  • A recent photo for identification when serving the order
  • Current addresses of the abuser’s residence and place of employment
  • License plate number and description of the abuser’s vehicle
  • Information regarding his/her gun ownership

2. Carefully complete the petition paperwork.

On the forms, you will be the “petitioner” and the abuser will be the “respondent.” Write about the most recent incident and be very specific and descriptive. If possible, include dates and location details.

When giving your address or listing the schools that your children attend, you can request that the information be kept confidential to prevent any further danger. If you are staying at a shelter, do not give the physical address, on the P.O. Box number is necessary.

3. Sign the petition in front of the clerk; then it will go to a judge.

Your petition may need to be notarized, so be sure to check with the clerk before you sign the paperwork. The clerk will then forward the petition to a judge. The judge may want to ask you questions during the review. The judge will then decide whether or not to issue the emergency order. if granted, the emergency order is only valid until a full court hearing for a plenary order can take place. you will be given papers that state the date and time of the hearing for a plenary order.

4. The order of protection and notice of the hearing date must be served by the police or other law enforcement personnel.

After a judge has granted you the order of protection, allow time for the order to be officially served to the abuser. Do not try and serve the abuser with papers yourself. The abuser may only be charged with violating the order and arrested after s/he has been officially given notice that the order exists. There is no charge to have the authorities serve the order.

5. Attend the court hearing to maintain protection.

You MUST attend your scheduled hearing if you want to keep your order of protection. If you do not show up in court, your emergency or interim order will be canceled and you may have to start the process all over again. Be advised, if you miss your court hearing, it may be more difficult for you to be granted another oder of protection in the future.

Orders of protection in Illinois are only available for situations covered under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act.  If you feel that you or a loved one is in danger, please contact the legal experts at Sherer Law Offices for a consultation.  We can advocate for you and help get you the protection you need.

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