A Guide to Getting Orders of Protection from New York’s Family Court

Domestic violence is far too commonplace in the world. In 2018 alone, violent domestic homicides made up over 17 percent of all homicides in New York City. Although law enforcement and other organizations are stepping up to prevent such crimes from occurring, there are ways you can protect yourself from a violent spouse or significant other.

A protection order, more commonly known as a restraining order, is one such method. An order of protection is a court order that legally tells an individual what they can’t do to you and what kind of contact is allowed. New York City’s Family Court issued more than 24,000 orders of protection in one year alone.

Here is a basic guide.

Against Whom Can You File a Protection Order?

Both the criminal and civil courts in New York can issue orders of protection. Any person who suffers or had suffered abuse, harassment, threats, intimidations, or any such crime can petition for an order of protection.

Protection orders are often issued as a result of domestic abuse. According to State law, you may only obtain a Family Court Order of Protection if your relationship to the person you’re petitioning against falls under one of the following:

  • A former or current spouse
  • A former or current boyfriend/girlfriend
  • An individual whom you have a child with
  • Any family member, whether you’re related by blood or marriage
  • An individual whom you share an intimate relationship with

If your case is not classified as domestic abuse, you may file a Criminal Court Order of Protection or a Supreme Court Order of Protection. Once a judge issues the order of protection, qualified process servers in NYC must serve the court papers to the respondent (abuser) as soon as possible. The protection order can only take effect after the respondent has been served.

If you are a parent, legal guardian, or someone who has legal custody over another individual, you may petition for a protection order on behalf of the victim if they are a minor, incapacitated, or unable to request a protection order on their own. As the petitioner, your name will be listed down as the plaintiff. However, it’s still the relationship between the victim and the abuser that should satisfy the relationship requirement for orders of protection.

If you live in fear of someone who is a member of your household or family, begin the process of getting an order of protection immediately. The best way to do so is by contacting attorneys who specialize in domestic violence and getting legal help right away.

How Can You Secure a Protection Order Through Family Court?

To secure an order of protection from New York’s Family Court, follow these steps:

  1. Discuss the particulars of your case with an attorney. They can help you draft the petition beforehand and work out the details.
  2. Go to the Family Court in your county and draft and submit a petition for the order. Make sure that the person you’re filing it against (also known as the “respondent”) qualifies as one of the previously mentioned individuals. Address all prior abuses this person has committed against you.
  3. Make your statement before a judge, who will also review your documents. The judge will determine whether to grant or deny your request.
  4. If the judge agrees to your request, you’ll gain a temporary order of protection until the trial or hearing.
  5. Arrange for a third party to serve the documents to the respondent.

Then, you just have to appear in the trial or hearing to finish the rest of your case.

What Can You Ask for in the Protection Order?

There are several things you can ask for in a protection order. They include:

  • Staying away from your person, your children, and specific locations, such as your home or workplace. You can include other people and places as necessary, such as your children’s school.
  • Allow you to return to your home, so you can collect your things with a police escort.
  • If the person is a danger to you or your children, a protection order can exclude them from your home, ordering them to stay away from the premises even if it isn’t under your name.
  • Stop them from abusing or threatening you or your loved ones. You can even specify which kinds of acts, such as telling them to desist from sending you threatening texts.
  • Revoke or suspend their license to carry firearms or even have them surrender any or all firearms they own.

Protecting yourself and your loved ones is essential in a difficult situation. If you feel that someone is a threat to your continued safety, seek help and protection as soon as possible.

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