The woman (plaintiff) petitioned for an order of protection against a man and the man’s son. The son was the brother and the man was the father of the plaintiff’s son’s ex-wife. The court stated: The trial court granted ex parte emergency orders of protection against both defendants.

The woman then filed amended order of protection petitions. After the hearing, the court granted an order of protection for one year against the son. It denied one against the man.

The son filed a motion to reconsider. The man filed a motion for sanctions under Supreme Court Rule 137. He claimed that the plaintiff falsely pleaded a family relationship existed between them. He argued that there was no relationship. After hearing, the court denied both motions.

Defendants appealed. They argued (1) the order of protection against the son should be vacated because the son does not fall under the definition of “family or household member.” (2) the trial court erred by denying Terry’s Rule 137 motion. The appellate court agreed with the trial court.

If the trial court finds the plaintiff “has been abused by a family or household member,” then the Domestic Violence Act provides that “an order of protection prohibiting that abuse, neglect, or exploitation shall issue.” The Act defines “family or household members” as including the following:

“spouses, former spouses, parents, children, stepchildren, and other persons related by blood or by a present or prior marriage, persons who share or formerly shared a common dwelling, persons who have or allegedly have a child in common, persons who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child, persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship, persons with disabilities and their personal assistants, and caregivers as defined.

The Domestic Violence Act provides for a liberal construction of the term “family member.” Courts should recognize brothers and parents of two formerly married people as included in the term “family member” or “persons related by a prior marriage.” Moreover, as applied in this case, the inclusion of siblings and parents of formerly married spouses as “family members” promotes the Domestic Violence Act’s stated purpose of eliminating intrafamily violence.

The appellate agreed that both the man and his son’s arguments were wrong. It agreed with the trial court.

Benjamin v. McKinnon, 379 Ill.App.3d 1013.

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