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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we explain how to file a petition for an Order of Protection in Illinois, including what documents must be filed to initiate an Illinois Order of Protection Proceeding, what must be included in a petition for an Illinois Order of Protection, where to file a petition for an Illinois Order of Protection, and how to properly serve summons for an Illinois Order of Protection.

Orders of Protection are court orders intended to protect the petitioner or other protected parties from future abuse at the hands of a family or household member.  Note that the definition of “abuse” is broad and includes non-physical actions such as harassment and threats.  The definition of family or household member is likewise broad and includes dating relationships.  For some foundational information on how Orders of Protection work, check out our article: Illinois Orders of Protection Explained.

What Documents Must Be Filed to Initiate an Illinois Order of Protection Proceeding?

A petitioner for an Order of Protection in Illinois should file the following documents to initiate the Order of Protection proceeding:

  • Petition for Order of Protection: Petition forms can be found on most county courts’ websites.
  • Affidavit in Support of the Order of Protection:  The affidavit is a sworn statement of the petitioner, whereby the petitioner swears that the facts giving rise to the relief requested in the petition are true.
  • Seven-Day Summons: The summons is a document that informs the respondent of the date and time of the hearing.

The summons and the petition must be personally served upon the respondent by a sheriff, special process server, or certified mail.

What Must Be Included in an Illinois Petition for Order of Protection?

An Illinois Petition for Order of Protection must contain the following:

Must a Petitioner for an Illinois Order of Protection Include His or Her Address in the Petition?

A petitioner for an Illinois Order of Protection may omit his or her address from the petition and all other court documents by stating in the petition that disclosure of the address would pose a risk of further abuse or reveal the confidential address of a shelter for domestic violence victims.  If the petitioner’s address is omitted, the petitioner must designate an alternative address to receive notice of court filings. This can be the address of the petitioner’s attorney.

What are the Filing Fees for an Illinois Order of Protection?

Unlike most court proceedings, the Illinois courts are prohibited from charging fees for filing, amending, certifying or photocopying petitions or orders, or for issuing summonses.  The sheriff will not charge a fee for service of process.  The respondent will typically be charged a fee that varies by county to file his or her appearance in the case, however, this fee may be waived by the court if the respondent is unemployed or indigent.  

Where Should A Petition For an Illinois Order of Protection Be Filed?

It is important to file the Petition for Order of Protection in the proper venue.  The petition may be filed in the circuit court of any of the following counties:

  • The county in which the petitioner resides;
  • The county in which the respondent resides;
  • The county in which the alleged abuse occurred; or
  • The county in which the petitioner is temporarily located if he or she could not find adequate temporary housing in the same county as his or her residence.

In determining where to file the Petition for Order of Protection, the petitioner should consider whether to join the Order of Protection to an ongoing civil or criminal proceeding to which the respondent is a party.  The petition for Order of Protection may be filed independently or under the same case number as an ongoing civil or criminal proceeding.  However, the order of protection proceeding must be consolidated with any dissolution of marriage case between the parties, regardless of which was filed first.

Service of Summons for Illinois Orders of Protection

Whether a Petition for Order of Protection is being filed under the case number of an existing civil or criminal case or as an independent proceeding, a new summons must be served to the respondent.  The summons will inform the respondent of the time and location of the hearing and will require the respondent to file an answer or appearance within seven days of service.  

The petition, any supporting affidavits, and any emergency orders of protection that have been issued should be attached to the summons and served upon the respondent.  

The summons may be served by either personal service or constructive service.  Personal service includes service by sheriff, special process server, or certified mail with restricted delivery.  

Constructive service can be achieved by leaving a copy of the summons at the respondent’s residence if the following requirements are met:

  • The summons must be left with a person residing at the household who is at least 13 years old;
  • The person with whom the summons is left must be informed of the summons’ contents;
  • The sheriff must mail a copy of the summons to the respondent; and
  • The petitioner files an affidavit or testifies before the court that he or she has made reasonable efforts to accomplish personal service and that personal service has been unsuccessful.

Not all remedies will be available if the respondent is served by constructive service and fails to appear in court or file an appearance.  Personal service (or an appearance) is required for the remedies of counseling, payment of maintenance or child support, and payment of monetary damages.  

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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