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.
A petitioner for an Order of Protection in Illinois should file the following documents to initiate the Order of Protection proceeding:
The summons and the petition must be personally served upon the respondent by a sheriff, special process server, or certified mail.
An Illinois Petition for Order of Protection must contain the following:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.