Circuit Court granted wife a plenary order of protection against her estranged husband as to their 3 minor children.  The order reduced father’s visitation with the children.  To 4 hours of weekly supervised visitation and 1 weekly telephone call per child.

Husband appealed.  He argued that the circuit court erred by (1) admitting the minor children’s hearsay statements.  (2) failing to make the required findings in entering the order of protection.  And, (3) granting the plenary order of protection. The appellate court reversed the circuit court and sent it back for further proceedings.

Section 8-2601 of the Code of Civil Procedure is applicable to out-of-court statements. Remedies which are possible in an order of protection are not available if petitioner does not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the subject of the petition was abused by the respondent.

The Circuit Court did not follow the provisions of Section 8-2601.  It did not make a reliability finding.  Or a finding the minor children were unavailable as witnesses.

In this case, the out-of-court statements admitted were made by minor children. They were ages 7, 11, and 13 years old.  They were old enough to testify in court. Thus, it is not clear that the children were unavailable to testify. Accordingly, we reverse the plenary order of protection.  And remand for new proceedings that comply with section 8-2601.

 Arika M. v. Christopher M., 2019 IL App (4th) 190125 (July 18, 2019)