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Legal Information: Illinois

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of
January 23, 2024

Can a civil no contact order be changed (modified)?

You can file a motion to request that the judge modify (change) an emergency or plenary civil no contact order.1 However, once 30 days have passed since the judge issued you a plenary no contact order, the judge can only change the order if there has been a change in the law or the facts of your case, which causes the judge to believe that there should be a change of the terms of your order.2

The only time that the abuser can file to change an order is once the abuser is served with your emergency ex parte no contact order. The abuser can file a petition to request that the judge reopen the case and reconsider the petition based on the facts that:

  • the abuser did not receive prior notice of the initial hearing where the emergency ex parte order was entered; and
  • the abuser had a valid defense that would have prevented the judge from issuing the order or any of the relief issued in the order.3

If the abuser files this type of request, s/he only has to provide you with two days’ notice of the court hearing where the request will be decided by the judge.3

1 740 ILCS 22/218.5(a)
2 740 ILCS 22/218.5(b)
3 740 ILCS 22/218.5(c)

Can I extend my civil no contact order?

An emergency or plenary civil no contact order can be extended one or more times if there is “good cause” to do so. However, if you are not asking the judge to make any changes to the extended order, and the abuser doesn’t oppose your request for an extension, the judge can extend the order just based on your statement that there has been no change in circumstances since entry of the order and based on whatever reason you give for requesting the extension.1

1 740 ILCS 22/216(c), (d-5)

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Violating a civil no contact order can be against the law. There are two ways to get help if the abuser violates the order.

Through the Civil Court System (Civil)
You may file for civil contempt for a violation of the order. The abuser may be violating a civil no contact order if:

  • s/he does anything that your civil no contact order prohibits him/her from doing or if s/he does not do something that is required in the order; and
  • s/he did that action or failed to do that action after being served with the no contact order (or having some other way of having knowledge of what the order says).1

If the abuser tells someone else (a third party) to violate the order, the abuser may be guilty of violating the order.2

If the abuser did not have notice of the of the case and an opportunity to appear in court for the hearing, then s/he may be able to use that in court as an excuse (defense) for why s/he violated the order.3

To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk’s office and ask for the forms to file for civil contempt.

Through the Police or Sheriff (Criminal)
If the abuser violates the civil no contact order, you can call 911 immediately, and the respondent can be arrested.4 However, the respondent must have received notice of the existing order by any of the following methods:

  • service of process;
  • appearance in court; or
  • another method that shows s/he had knowledge of the order.5

The penalties for violating a civil no contact order can include incarceration, payment of restitution, a fine, payment of attorneys’ fees and costs, or community service.6 The first violation of a civil no contact order can be a Class A misdemeanor. A second or subsequent violation can be a Class 4 felony.7 The penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is jail time for up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500.8 The penalty for a Class 4 felony is jail time for between one and three years and a fine to be decided by the judge.9

For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

1 720 ILCS 5/12-3.8(a)
2 720 ILCS 5/12-3.8(d)
3 720 ILCS 5/12-3.8(a-5)
4 740 ILCS 22/220(c)
5 740 ILCS 22/220(e)
6 740 ILCS 22/220(h)(1)
7 720 ILCS 5/12-3.8(e)
8 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55
9 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-45

If I get a protection order, will it show up in an internet search?

According to federal law, which applies to all states, territories, and tribal lands, the courts are not supposed to make available publicly on the internet any information that would be likely to reveal your identity or location. This applies to all of these documents:

  • the petition you file;
  • the protection order, restraining order, or injunction that was issued by the court; or
  • the registration of an order in a different state.1

1 18 USC § 2265(d)(3)