In this article we explain HB 4796, a new Illinois law went into effect in 2019 to amend the Domestic Violence Act and Criminal Code in order to allow foster parents, legal guardians and adoptive parents who are abused by a family or household member of a child to seek an order of protection. We answer the questions, “Who is protected under the Domestic Violence Act?” “What protections can someone seek?” and “Who is considered a family or household member of a child?”
HB 4796 amends the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 and the Protective Orders Article of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963. It adds the following people as protected if they’re abused by a family or household member of a child:
· A foster parent of that child if the child has been placed in the foster parent's home by the Department of Children and Family Services or by a different state's public child welfare agency
· A legally appointed guardian or legally appointed custodian of the child
· An adoptive parent of the child or a prospective adoptive parent if the child has been placed in the prospective adoptive parent's home pursuant to the Adoption Act or another state's law.
These people are protected under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act and may file a petition for an order of protection. Orders of protection are court orders intended to protect the petitioner or other protected parties from abuse at the hands of a family member or household member. The remedies that a judge can order in order to protect the petitioner vary from case to case, but often include a requirement that the respondent stay away from the petitioner. If the respondent fails to comply with the order of protection, he or she may face criminal prosecution. For more on orders of protection, check out our article: Illinois Orders of Protection Explained.
Persons who would have been considered a family or household member of a child before termination of parental rights continue to be classified as family or household members of that child as it pertains to the new law. In the context of children, household members include anyone related by blood or marriage or anyone that currently or previously shared a common household. For example, if a child’s birth mother or father abuses that child’s new foster or adoptive parent, then the foster or adoptive parent would be protected under the amended law.