(750 ILCS 60/202) (from Ch. 40, par. 2312-2)
    Sec. 202. Commencement of action; filing fees; dismissal.
    (a) How to commence action. Actions for orders of protection are commenced:
        (1) Independently: By filing a petition for an order
of protection in any civil court, unless specific courts are designated by local rule or order.
        (2) In conjunction with another civil proceeding: By
filing a petition for an order of protection under the same case number as another civil proceeding involving the parties, including, but not limited to: (i) any proceeding under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Illinois Parentage Act of 2015, Nonsupport of Spouse and Children Act, or Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act or an action for nonsupport brought under Article X of the Illinois Public Aid Code, provided that a petitioner and the respondent are a party to or the subject of that proceeding or (ii) a guardianship proceeding under the Probate Act of 1975, or a proceeding for involuntary commitment under the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code, or any proceeding, other than a delinquency petition, under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987, provided that a petitioner or the respondent is a party to or the subject of such proceeding.
        (3) In conjunction with a delinquency petition or a
criminal prosecution as provided in Section 112A-20 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963.
    (a-1) A petition for an order of protection may be filed in person or online.
    (a-5) When a petition for an emergency order of protection is filed, the petition shall not be public until the petition is served on the respondent.
    Accessibility to the petition under this subsection prior to the petition being served on the respondent shall be in accordance with Section 5 of the Court Record and Document Accessibility Act.
    (b) Filing, certification, and service fees. No fee shall be charged by the clerk for filing, amending, vacating, certifying, or photocopying petitions or orders; or for issuing alias summons; or for any related filing service. No fee shall be charged by the sheriff for service by the sheriff of a petition, rule, motion, or order in an action commenced under this Section.
    (c) Dismissal and consolidation. Withdrawal or dismissal of any petition for an order of protection prior to adjudication where the petitioner is represented by the State shall operate as a dismissal without prejudice. No action for an order of protection shall be dismissed because the respondent is being prosecuted for a crime against the petitioner. An independent action may be consolidated with another civil proceeding, as provided by paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of this Section. For any action commenced under paragraph (2) or (3) of subsection (a) of this Section, dismissal of the conjoined case (or a finding of not guilty) shall not require dismissal of the action for the order of protection; instead, it may be treated as an independent action and, if necessary and appropriate, transferred to a different court or division. Dismissal of any conjoined case shall not affect the validity of any previously issued order of protection, and thereafter subsections (b)(1) and (b)(2) of Section 220 shall be inapplicable to such order.
    (d) Pro se petitions. The court shall provide, through the office of the clerk of the court, simplified forms and clerical assistance to help with the writing and filing of a petition under this Section by any person not represented by counsel. In addition, that assistance may be provided by the State's Attorney.
    (e) As provided in this subsection, the administrative director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, with the approval of the administrative board of the courts, may adopt rules to establish and implement a pilot program to allow the electronic filing of petitions for temporary orders of protection and the issuance of such orders by audio-visual means to accommodate litigants for whom attendance in court to file for and obtain emergency relief would constitute an undue hardship or would constitute a risk of harm to the litigant.
        (1) As used in this subsection:
            (A) "Electronic means" means any method of
transmission of information between computers or other machines designed for the purpose of sending or receiving electronic transmission and that allows for the recipient of information to reproduce the information received in a tangible medium of expression.
            (B) "Independent audio-visual system" means
an electronic system for the transmission and receiving of audio and visual signals, including those with the means to preclude the unauthorized reception and decoding of the signals by commercially available television receivers, channel converters, or other available receiving devices.
            (C) "Electronic appearance" means an
appearance in which one or more of the parties are not present in the court, but in which, by means of an independent audio-visual system, all of the participants are simultaneously able to see and hear reproductions of the voices and images of the judge, counsel, parties, witnesses, and any other participants.
        (2) Any pilot program under this subsection
(e) shall be developed by the administrative director or his or her delegate in consultation with at least one local organization providing assistance to domestic violence victims. The program plan shall include, but not be limited to:
            (A) identification of agencies equipped with
or that have access to an independent audio-visual system and electronic means for filing documents; and
            (B) identification of one or more
organizations who are trained and available to assist petitioners in preparing and filing petitions for temporary orders of protection and in their electronic appearances before the court to obtain such orders; and
            (C) identification of the existing resources
available in local family courts for the implementation and oversight of the pilot program; and
            (D) procedures for filing petitions and
documents by electronic means, swearing in the petitioners and witnesses, preparation of a transcript of testimony and evidence presented, and a prompt transmission of any orders issued to the parties; and
            (E) a timeline for implementation and a plan
for informing the public about the availability of the program; and
            (F) a description of the data to be
collected in order to evaluate and make recommendations for improvements to the pilot program.
        (3) In conjunction with an electronic appearance,
any petitioner for an ex parte temporary order of protection may, using the assistance of a trained advocate if necessary, commence the proceedings by filing a petition by electronic means.
            (A) A petitioner who is seeking an ex parte
temporary order of protection using an electronic appearance must file a petition in advance of the appearance and may do so electronically.
            (B) The petitioner must show that traveling
to or appearing in court would constitute an undue hardship or create a risk of harm to the petitioner. In granting or denying any relief sought by the petitioner, the court shall state the names of all participants and whether it is granting or denying an appearance by electronic means and the basis for such a determination. A party is not required to file a petition or other document by electronic means or to testify by means of an electronic appearance.
            (C) Nothing in this subsection (e) affects
or changes any existing laws governing the service of process, including requirements for personal service or the sealing and confidentiality of court records in court proceedings or access to court records by the parties to the proceedings.
        (4) Appearances.
            (A) All electronic appearances by a
petitioner seeking an ex parte temporary order of protection under this subsection (e) are strictly voluntary and the court shall obtain the consent of the petitioner on the record at the commencement of each appearance.
            (B) Electronic appearances under this
subsection (e) shall be recorded and preserved for transcription. Documentary evidence, if any, referred to by a party or witness or the court may be transmitted and submitted and introduced by electronic means.
(Source: P.A. 102-853, eff. 1-1-23; 103-154, eff. 6-30-23; 103-166, eff. 1-1-24.)