Pets are often considered part of the family. In Illinois, the legal system really considers them to be a part of your family, because they can be a part of your domestic violence protective order.
Those in domestic violence situations with partners who are abusive worry not only about their own safety but the safety of others in the family – including pets.
Here is what you need to know about orders of protection in Illinois, how they work, and what it means when a pet is included.
What is Domestic Violence in Illinois?
When many people think of domestic violence, they think of physical abuse – but that’s not the only form domestic violence can take. Physical abuse can form part of it, yes, but it can also be verbal abuse, stalking, threats, intimidation, and harassment.
Some examples of the types of behavior considered to be domestic violence in the eyes of the court include:
- Threats to cause bodily harm
- Physical assault
- Reckless endangerment
- Animal abuse
- Child abuse
- Psychological abuse
If the victim or victims can show they are in a situation involving domestic violence, then they can apply for an Order of Protection, which is signed off by a judge.
What is an Order of Protection in Illinois?
In Illinois, an Order of Protection, once it is approved by a judge, restricts the person named in the order from contact with the person protected by the order. They also must stay away from the person protected by the order and refrain from going to their home, their job, or their school.
There are different types of Orders for Protection in Illinois, which include:
An Emergency Order of Protection lasts for only a few weeks and is granted quickly to help protect a victim immediately. These emergency orders are temporary, but only the person asking for the order attends the hearing, not the person being accused. At the end of the emergency period, a formal hearing is held to determine if the order should be extended or if it should be terminated.
An Interim Order of Protection is in place for 30 days. It is often used as an extension to an emergency order if a hearing can’t be scheduled in a timely matter. However, this process allows the person named in the order to be notified or even appear at the hearing, whereas the emergency order does not.
A Plenary Order of Protection can last for as long as two years. It is issued only after both the victim and the person named in the order have had an opportunity to present their cases before a judge.
How Are Pets Included?
The Illinois Domestic Violence Act offers protections for animals as well as people in Orders for Protection. When an animal is involved, the victim can ask to be awarded sole custody of the animal if it is owned by both partners, even jointly, or owned by a minor child.
If granted as part of the order, the person named in the order cannot have contact with the pet. Harming, making threats toward, or contacting the pet can lead to a violation of the order.
What Happens If an Order is Violated?
If you violate an Order of Protection, then you can be arrested and charged with that violation, which is a criminal offense.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.