How long does an Order of Protection last in a New York family law case?

couple fightingTemporary orders of protection are issued by the Family Court (or the Supreme Court in divorce cases) and can last as long as a Family Offense case is pending in the court. Final orders of protection are those that are issued at the end of the case. Family Offense petitions are the method by which order of protection cases are initiated in the New York Family Courts. If the filed petition makes out the elements of a “Family Offense”, the court will issue a temporary order. This initial order is based on the one sided presentation by the applicant and requires the other side, or respondent to observe certain behaviors to protect the alleged victim. The respondent will have a right to contest the petition. Each county has different procedures on the length of the temporary order of protection which I have seen in my practice as a New York City, Suffolk County and Nassau County Order of Protection Lawyer.

For example, some courts make the temporary order for only the length of time until the next court appearance.   Usually the temporary order will then be continued again until the next court appearance if the case remains pending. Other venues issue the temporary order to last for six months or a different time period. This does not mean that the order will definitively stay in place for six months or the other time period as court appearances will most likely be scheduled for sooner time periods than the order is set to expire. If the case is still not resolved before the order expires then, usually, the court will extend the temporary order while the case is still unresolved. Some courts will extend or continue the orders automatically, however, others will only do so upon a request. Therefore, it is important for a party or better yet, their lawyer to pay attention to when an order is set to expire so appropriate requests can be made to the court to extend it or arguments be made against the order continuing or being extended.

The common ways to resolve a Family Offense petition is by an agreement for an order of protection without an admission; withdrawal of the petition; dismissal of the petition before or after a trial; or the finding that a family offense petition has been committed and an order of protection put into place. The order of protection that is made at the end of a case becomes a permanent order of protection. It does not mean an order of protection that will be in place forever, rather it is permanent as it remains in place for a length of time after the case is over in contrast to a temporary order of protection.

The New York Family Court Act allows for final or permanent orders of protection for up to two years, unless the court finds that aggravating circumstances exist or the court finds that the behavior set forth in the petition is a violation of an existing order of protection. Aggravating circumstances involve injury, the use of weapons, a violent history or repeated violations of orders of protection among other scenarios. The time for the final order is in addition to whatever time the temporary order was in place. So, if the case takes a year to get to trial, the order of protection can end up being in place for three years without aggravating circumstances or a finding of a violation.  If there is consent, or cause, an order of protection can be extended by a motion. The lack of abuse while an order was in place is not reason enough by itself be the reason to decline an extension. Also, the length of time that any temporary order existed should not be the determining factor alone for how long a final order should be.

People that are defined as family may receive orders of protection by the Family Court or Supreme Court. People in intimate relationships qualify as family under the law. Those that are not family may only receive orders of protection through a criminal case. In my years of practice, I have found myself on both sides of order of protection cases. I have handled many from inception to settlement or trial. For more details about orders of protection or other matrimonial or family law issues, please click around my blog and website. Feel free to call to discuss your situation. It would be our pleasure to speak with you about it.