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While I am certain that this protective order is frivolous, I would recommend seeking an attorney (or at a minimum going to a self help desk at your local court or law library to get some help in responding yourself) to oppose this petition. A civil restraining order against you does have some implications beyond the "stay away" order itself. (I am not trying to scare you, and the issue is not one of life changing importance, but I would recommend speaking with an attorney - an hours worth of time would be worthwhile).
To deal with the car, you can go to the DMV and ask for duplicate title to get proof of ownership. Please give me a moment and I will get see if I can get you some links to help with both issues.
I certainly plan on appearing in court--I had hoped to avoid frivolous legal fees but if it's necessary. I have looked into a duplicate title--of course that's a $100 and I am currently underemployed so that's a hardship. How can she just "steal" something and get away with it?
She cannot steal the vehicle. To get it back you need to file a small claims action against her for what is called "conversion" (it is roughly equivalent to the criminal charge of "theft").
You can include your damages due to the loss of the vehicle and demand the return of the car. You can do this even while the civil protective order is in place (just remember to follow the order, and you will need someone else to serve the complaint and summons in any event).
As to the civil protective order, do not just appear, make sure to file papers in advance, even if it is just a statement written on letterhead (make it match the papers that were served on you (the same format with your name where hers is - or her attorney's - and the Court's name, the hearing date, etc.), then a statement of facts written by you regarding her claims.
You will want the Court to be aware of your position before the hearing (an opposition filed with the court and served on her prior to the hearing).
I've not been in trouble with the law since I was a kid (I'm 54) and I'm certainly not a violent or abusive person. In fact, outside of this woman, I'm pretty sure I'm on good terms with just about all my ex girlfriends--even my ex-wife. I avoid confrontation at all costs so this is just so frustrating because all I want to do is sell her the car (I don't think I can just transfer the title).
Will this order of protection be on my permanent record?
Unfortunately, you are not alone in having to defend a meritless restraining order petition. I have defended these petitions for other individuals on other claims that were even further removed from reality.
The petition is not "on your record" unless the permanent petition is entered. Check the language in your actual order, this is a civil law matter, but yes it can be included in your record if it is entered (this is why having an attorney take a look at your case and give you at least some initial assistance in how to respond even if you do not pay for them to actually represent you, is a good idea).
So with all these filings and legal procedures, it sounds like I really do need a lawyer.
I would recommend at least talking to one. An hours worth of their time to get an idea of where to go would be worthwhile, you may be able to defend the matter on your own, but I would definitely talk to one to get an idea of the risks involved and make a determination as to whether or not it is worth the cost of hiring counsel to defend you. (For some individuals the risk just doesn't warrant spending the money, for others it is worth it).
Now I need to find the right lawyer at the right price (remember, I'm poor). Unfortunately, as you know, the law is written for the well-to-do-- though she doesn't have a whole lot of money either.
I work in academia so my good name is XXXXX XXXXX why this is so troubling.
I understand (the high cost of access to justice is one of the main reasons I work on this forum). To locate a low cost attorney, you can try the Court (they often have a list of low cost attorneys, as does the self help desk, if available. You can try the local bar association (try searching for your county's name and "bar association" on the web), you can also use http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/ Martindale Hubble, and AVVO
can I contact her legal representation--if I can figure out who it is?
Look for a civil litigation attorney, a newer attorney and an attorney working in a solo practice or small firm is usually less expensive.
You are permitted to contact her attorney.
ok. I think that's it. Thank you for your help. Is there anything else I should be aware of or be concerned with? BTW, when I met her (RED FLAG!!!) she told me she had someone that she had a similar order against. I'm so naive; I'm thinking "What a jerk that guy must be". Of course, now I realize that she was the psycho. So is there anything that prevents people from filing these frivolous orders?--it sounds like that's her m.o.
She is not prohibited from filing the orders, but a history of filing frivolous orders (it takes more than 2) places procedural hurdles on her to get the permanent orders in place - there is a public policy in place for protecting individuals from dangerous situations that "trumps" the concerns about frivolous issues.
I can understand why and despite my consternation, I probably have to side on the existing public policy. But I can't help but think that the court should at least have the petitioner provide some evidence. Oh, forgot,. My copy of the complaint is largely unreadable--particularly the page which describes what I am supposed to have done--that's entirely unreadable. The police say it's because I get the bottom of a four-copy duplicate and by the time they make me a copy this is the result. So I don't even have any specifics as to what I'm supposed to have done that necessitated this order.
Anyway, thank you for your advice. Not what I really wanted to hear but what I suspected.
You are welcome, I do wish you the best - to get a better copy of the documents, go to the Court and request a copy (or ask her attorney if she is represented, there is no reasonable objection to not providing you with a clear copy of the documents).
Ok, and finally, will the name and a way to contact her attorney be at the courthouse?
and does this order prohibit her from entering my house (she still has keys--I am changing the locks tomorrow.)
The attorney's name would be at the top of the papers you were served with. If she does not have an attorney, her name will be at the very top (look for the name and contact information, not the name of the case or petition name).
She cannot purposefully come into contact with you - meaning she cannot come to your home as she no longer lives there.
Ok, thanks again. Hopefully this will end soon--but I'm not counting on it. I suspect she wants more than a pound of flesh. Take care and keep up the good work.