Circuit Court clerks are often the crucial entry point to a domestic violence victim becoming a survivor with the help of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA).  This year, two very minor changes in law are going to enhance the safety measures for domestic violence victims.  These changes will require more of circuit clerks but the changes are lifesaving.

With the elimination of a few words domestic violence orders of protection will be available more quickly once approved by a judge.  Previously the clerks had 24 hours to record the issued orders of protection and get them to the sheriff’s office to upload into the LEADS and for service to the respondent.  Beginning January 1, 2020 any domestic violence order of protection approved by a judge must be recorded immediately for delivery to the sheriff’s office.  (e) If an order is granted under subsection (c) of Section 214, the court shall immediately file a certified copy of the order with the sheriff or other law enforcement official charged with maintaining Department of State Police records.

The other change in law is that issued orders of protection cannot be made public until they have been served.  Apparently there are a few attorneys who think it is more important to solicit business than it is to keep people alive who are seeking safety through the courts.

The reason emergency orders of protection were created is due to the high level of danger that occurs when victims of domestic violence reach out for help from an abusive partner.  When these unscrupulous attorneys are notifying the respondent/ abuser, it nullifies the safety the victim is seeking.  (a–5) When a petition for a civil no contact order is granted, the order shall not be publicly available until the order is served on the respondent.

 There is still much mythology in our common understanding of domestic violence.  People who chose to physically abuse their partners will take every opportunity to isolate the victim and keep them from seeking outside help.  These small changes to our laws will further enhance safety procedures when victims reach out to the courts for assistance.

Everyone that works for or with our justice system has a role to play in reducing domestic violence.  These two legislative changes will improve circuit clerks’ opportunities to help reduce domestic violence and increase protection for families in all 102 counties. Protecting victims and ensuring they have full access to the law as it is intended will make all our communities safer.