The shelter-in-place order and various court rules have left many victims of domestic abuse in a tough quandary. Should I risk the exposure to COVID-19 or stay in place with my abuser? It is not the intention of the shelter-in-place orders to require victims of domestic abuse to remain with their abuser. In fact, many courts and local law enforcement agencies realize that there is a potential risk of escalating and continued domestic violence during the pandemic. Court systems throughout this country have made adjustments to ensure safety for all during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The adjustments include a change to the way court is conducted during the time of shelter-in-place orders. There are some cases that need to be heard on an emergency basis and the courts have made adjustments for the same. Several court systems throughout the country have limited physical appearances in courtrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Others have outright prevented anyone from entering the court building.
In Illinois, most courts will allow for Emergency Orders of Protection (hereinafter EOP) to be filed and heard in person. Each county has specific rules to govern EOP and hearings regarding extension and hearings on existing orders of protection. Some courts have put in place automatic extensions for existing orders of protection. For example, in Cook County, the General Administrative Orders provides relief for petitioners of emergency orders of protection to be present for hearing in person or by videoconference. and provides automatic 30-day extensions for orders of protection previously entered. Will County will allow for petitioners to appear in person for emergency orders of protection. DuPage County has resumed holding in-person hearings on emergency matters, order of protection returns, and bench trials.
A rising concern during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the increased instances of domestic violence incidents. Victims of domestic violence should be aware that courts are still addressing Emergency Orders of Protection through remote conferencing tools. Even though there have been restrictions on physical appearance in court buildings, virtually all courts throughout Illinois have found ways to remain open and handle emergency matters through videoconferencing. Zoom and videoconferencing instructions will be provided to the parties in cases where the court believes that a hearing should be conducted. Navigating through the remote order of protection process can be difficult, but an attorney can help you navigate through the process of obtaining an order of protection during a mandated shelter-in-place order. Sterk Family Law Group can assist if you have questions about an EOP and our office offers free no-obligation consultations.
There are organizations and resources still available to victims of domestic violence. The Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Domestic Violence Hotline offers services to victims. Local organizations such as the Crisis Center of South Suburbia, Focus Ministries, MorningStar Mission, Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, and DuPage Family Shelter Service are operational and ready to assist in any way that they can.
Below are some resources and Domestic Violence organizations with information on how to stay safe during the Coronavirus outbreak:
- Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline: The Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline is free, confidential, multi-lingual and is open 24 hours a day. Call 1-877-863-6338 for assistance.
- DuPage County Family Shelter Service: Visit www.familyshelterservice.org for more information and/or call (630) 469-5650.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: Staying Safe During COVID-19; online chat available at thehotline.org
- RAINN: RAINN Is Here For You, No Matter What; online chat available at rainn.org
- Domesticshelters.org: COVID-19 articles available and online chat
We are here to assist you
We are aware that everyone has been affected by the recent response to COVID-19 but we hope that you find some comfort in knowing that we are still operational and here to assist you. If you are a victim of domestic violence, we can assist you with obtaining an Order of Protection.
To the extent possible, we will offer remote consultations and provide services from a distance.
This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.