Domestic violence in a relationship is a serious issue that millions of people face every day. For many, the warning signs are ignored or rationalized, but nobody deserves to live in an abusive situation. Physical violence does not have to occur to qualify as domestic violence. A pattern of mental or emotional abuse can emerge over the course of time, leading a person to feel unsafe in their relationship. Whatever the form of abuse a person suffers, they can achieve safety by obtaining an order of protection issued by a judge.
The Process of Obtaining an Order of Protection
If you reach a point in time when you feel the need to escape an abusive relationship, the first thing to do is make sure you are safe. The most common time for a victim of domestic violence to be attacked is when they attempt to leave the person who is abusing them or when they reach out to somebody for help. While getting out of an abusive situation and protecting your safety is important, you should also consider what may happen after you leave. If you are in danger, do not hesitate to contact law enforcement.
Once you are prepared, you will need to fill out a form to apply for an order of protection, making sure to include all relevant information regarding the abuse. Once the form has been completed, it will need to be filed. You may be able to file the form online. Instructions for filing an order of protection form online can typically be found on the local circuit court clerk’s website. If not, the form will need to be filed at the courthouse in the county where the abusive party resides or where the abuse occurred.
What Happens After Filing
Next, your request will be passed to a judge, who will hear what you have to say about the abuse. It is possible that the judge will ask more questions about what has happened to lead up to this point so they can fully understand the situation. Based on the answers you provide on the form and their discussion with you, the judge will determine if an emergency order of protection is necessary, and they will give you a hearing date for a plenary order of protection.
Once the initial hearing is finished, the sheriff will give the abuser the documents containing information about the situation, as well as the emergency order of protection (if one was issued).
After the initial hearing with the judge, there will be another hearing to determine if a plenary order of protection is needed. Both parties will be allowed to present information to the judge, including evidence such as photographs, hospital records, or witness testimony. Once all information has been presented, the judge will decide whether to issue a plenary order of protection or decline to issue the order.
A plenary order of protection can last up to two years. Abusers who do not follow the terms of an order (which may require them to stay away from their victim, refrain from communicating with them, and in some cases, provide financial support) can be arrested and charged with a crime. In order for them to be charged, you would need to file a police report with your local police department stating that the abuser has violated the order of protection.
Contact an Experienced DuPage County Order of Protection Lawyer
If you need assistance with obtaining an order of protection or defending against abuse allegations, the Wheaton family law attorneys at Anderson and Associates, P.C. can provide you with the legal help you need, ensuring that you and your family can stay safe. Contact us at 630-653-9400 for a free consultation.