By Attorney Angie Reed
During the recent COVID-19 Pandemic, the Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse (555 W. Harrison St.) has suspended all in-person court appearances, except for initial filing for Petitions for Emergency Orders of Protection (EOP) and Petitions for Emergency Stalking/No-Contact Orders (commonly referred to as "restraining orders"). People in need of protection must go to the Domestic Violence Courthouse and file the necessary documents to try and obtain an Emergency Order. These documents include complex legal filings such as, a summons for the Respondent, a well-crafted Petition, a proposed Order, potentially an affidavit, and a cover sheet. Anyone considering filing a legal Petition for an Order of Protection or “OP” is strongly advised to speak with a competent, experienced attorney before proceeding with legal action. Of course, victims of abuse and/or stalking who feel that their safety is potentially at risk should immediately call 911 to report the situation.
A skilled litigation attorney will expertly guide the petitioner through the unfamiliar, detailed, and understandably intimidating process of pursuing a court entered Order of Protection. A Petition for an EOP requires that many prescribed sections be completed and provides for a variety of potential remedies, all of which can be frustratingly confusing to nonlawyers. A compassionate and hard-working attorney can help draft the Petition and affidavit while working closely with the petitioner to achieve a favorable and specific outcome. When a petitioner is represented by an attorney, counsel is usually able to electronically file all necessary documents for the petitioner, saving the petitioner a burdensome trip to the courthouse. Often, attorneys may be able to have a petitioner's presence waived at certain court dates throughout the Order of Protection litigation process, saving their clients from the necessity of making multiple time-consuming, and sometimes rather unpleasant court appearances.
Once a Petition for an EOP has been properly filed, the petitioner will be required to go in front of a judge on Zoom to testify to the truthfulness of their Petition. A respected attorney from an established law firm can be crucial in helping to prepare the petitioner for this testimony and will also fully explain the next steps in the process including the vital procedure of having the Petition and Order legally served on the other party. The person being sought protection from, known as the Respondent, will be given the opportunity to hire legal counsel to advocate on their behalf. It is not uncommon for Respondent attorneys to file motions to dismiss, counter petitions, requests for attorney's fees, and other rather esoteric and potentially very impactful legal pleadings, highlighting the need for Petitioners to enlist the assistance of a qualified attorney when seeking an Order of Protection.
If after reviewing the written petition and presiding over the initial hearing, the court grants the EOP for the petitioner, more court appearances will follow and will likely often leading to a full-blown, contested hearing which can result in a dismissal of the case or the entry of a 2-year Order of Protection (the maximum time allowed for Orders of Protection).
While a petitioner can benefit immensely from having an attorney on their side, it is equally as important for a respondent to secure effective legal representation to defend their rights and pursue their interests in court. If you are in need of obtaining an Order of Protection or you have had an Order of Protection sought against you, please contact the excellent attorneys at CTM Legal Group by calling 312-818-6700 right now to discuss your urgent and important case.
We at CTM Legal Group want to emphasize that it is most often quite necessary to have an attorney when dealing with Orders of Protection and that our firm, dedicated to serving working class clients, is an affordable and experienced option.