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Order of Protection vs. Stalking/No Contact Order: Which will protect me in Illinois?

Posted by CTM Legal Group | Mar 04, 2024 | 0 Comments

By Attorney Angie Reed

Illinois law provides for two distinct, but similar, protective orders in our civil court system. In Cook County, both Orders of Protection (OPs) and Stalking/No Contact Orders (SNCOs) are typically filed and heard throughout their duration at the Domestic Violence Courthouse at 555 W Harrison. In other Illinois counties, these protective orders may be consolidated in misdemeanor courtrooms or in domestic relations courtrooms. Contacting an attorney in your jurisdiction will help you navigate where and how to file.

The protections granted with these orders are also very similar: Functionally, both orders can keep a specific person away from you, your home, your household members, and places you frequent like your school or place of work.

There are two main differences between OPs and SNCOs, however. 

  • First, the type of relationship between the parties will govern which type of order is appropriate. This is the starting point to discern whether you should file for an OP or a SNCO.
    • OPs require a particular type of relationship between the petitioner (the person seeking the order) and the respondent (the person whom the order is against). To file for an OP, the petitioner and respondent must have had a dating relationship, be or have been household members, or be family members. A dating relationship can be anything from a single date, a live-in partner, sharing children together, or a casual dating relationship.
    • SNCOs do not require this type of dating or familial relationship. A petitioner can file for a SNCO against anyone who is engaged in stalking/harassing behavior, regardless of relationship status.
  • Second, the type of alleged behavior from the respondent has a different threshold in OPs and SNCOs.
    • In an OP, a single instance of abuse can be enough for a petitioner to receive the protective order, whether on an emergency or long-term basis. This instance also does not have to be physical violence. If a respondent is using verbal abuse, threats, property damage, or financial abuse to control or harass a petitioner, any of these single acts can be enough for an OP.
    • In a SNCO, a course of conduct from the respondent must be illustrated. This means two or more alleged instances of stalking or harassing behavior must be alleged before a SNCO can be granted, whether on an emergency or long-term basis. In other words, a single occurrence of “stalking” will not be enough for a petitioner to meet their burden for a SNCO.

Both of these orders can be utilized in Illinois to protect you from someone abusing, stalking, or harassing you. A skilled attorney can help you discern whether someone's behavior is abusive under the Illinois statutes and can help you navigate the litigation process to secure a long-term protective order.

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