One of the most abused tactics used by women who are seeking an advantage in child custody proceedings is to file an order of protection (OP) against the father. While this is a quick (and sometimes temporarily effective) way to get what you want, it is not always the most appropriate, nor the most permanent way. Many times there is a legitimate need for an order of protection, and in those cases where the safety of the petitioner or her child is at risk, an order of protection is undeniably necessary. However, many women have been known to file frivolous orders of protection against the child’s father as a strategic way to limit a father’s time with the child.
An order of protection can be filed to protect any of the following people from abuse or harassment (750 ILCS 60/201(a)):
- Any person abused by a family or household member;
- Any high-risk adult with disabilities who is abused, neglected, or exploited by a family or household member;
- Any minor child or dependent adult in the care of such person; and
- Any person residing or employed at a private home or public shelter which is housing an abused family or household member.
Because the statute allows for an adult to file on behalf of a minor child, a common tactic used by mothers is to file an emergency OP on behalf of the child. If an emergency OP is granted, it is done so immediately, without a trial, and can last for 14-21 days. Therefore in the absence of a trial, the accused is unable to defend himself.
The motives behind filing a frivolous OP against another parent often include seeking to tarnish the accused’s record with the OP in an attempt to undermine his fitness as a parent; seeking immediate gratification in difficult child-custody disputes; or simply seeking revenge. However, if nobody is at risk of abuse or harassment, filing an emergency OP for the sole reason of getting your way in a child custody dispute is an abuse of the judicial system and is never ok. Additionally, whenever an OP is filed, the court will set a date for a hearing and the accused will be given a chance to present his side of the story to the judge. In the event that the accuser is found to have filed a frivolous OP for harassment purposes, the court may impose disciplinary sanctions on the accuser.
For more information on orders of protection as they relate to child custody, feel free to contact The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.