COVID-19 Update: How we are serving and protecting our clients.

Articles Posted in Order of Protection

Unhappy-couples-300x200The recent issues caused by COVID-19 have surfaced some common questions about family court cases, and what kind of issues require immediate attention. For instance, if a person was removed from their home because of a temporary order of protection, would this require an immediate hearing to ensure that each person is the case is properly protected?

For related people, and people who have been in an intimate relationship before, the Family Court can offer order protections when someone has a claim to being a victim of a Family Offense. The concept of a “family offense” can be difficult to understand, as there are many different levels to family offense cases. A broad description for this matter would identify family offenses as specific acts defined by Penal law and committed against members of “family”.

Family, defined by the New York Family Court Act, can include everything from obvious family relationships, to boyfriends, girlfriends, and people with children in common. The term “family” might also refer to people living in the same household. A person seeking an order of protection would need to file a petition with the Family Court and highlight the offenses that were allegedly committed by the “family” member. Continue reading ›

OrderofProtectioncouple-300x200At the time of writing, my office is still open during the COVID-19 pandemic however I am doing business a little differently, as everyone. We have made some changes to the way that we support citizens in New York and Long Island, to adhere with the guidelines implemented for the safety of US residents. This means that phone and video consultations are more likely during this time.

It’s also worth noting that the courts have reduced the number of cases that they are willing to hear, to avoid the unnecessary gathering of people in a legal environment. The courts are only open for essential cases at this time. Although the definition of “essential” may change in the months to come and may differ on a case by case basis, we do know that Orders of Protection are listed as essential. Usually, these cases are managed in Family Court, within Nassau, Suffolk, Queens County and other areas. Most of these courts have adopted virtual court appearances at this time for safety reasons and to comply with the orders, guidelines, and directives that apply during the coronavirus

Applying for an Order of Protection at This Time

People considered to be family have the option to access orders of protection against other family members when certain offenses are committed. My office has helped various families to apply for or defend against these orders over the years and will continue to do so at this time. Continue reading ›

In Anonymous v. Anonymous, a husband filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss his wife’s petition alleging he’d violated an order of protection. The order of protection had been entered without a finding of fault and directed him to stay at least 1,000 feet away from the wife’s residence and job, except for court-ordered child visitation or to go to church on Sundays. It also ordered him not to commit a family or criminal offense against her.

The wife alleged that the husband had retained a private investigator. The PI recorded the wife, and the DVD showed she’d gone into a motel and had an affair with a priest at the church where she worked. The wife claimed the husband gave the DVD to her employers, and this forced her resignation.

She argued the husband had no legitimate purpose in sending a PI to follow her, and his goal was just to cause her to lose her job and humiliate her. She claimed this was a violation of the 2009 order of protection.

Continue reading ›

Unlike circumstances relating to child custody cases, where the testimony made by the children involved (please seemy last blog for more information), can be done in a private setting (In-Camera), circumstances can differ somewhat in order of protection or family offense cases, where children are brought forth as witnesses to a specific event. In the case of a family offense proceeding, which is a case in family court that addresses whether or not there should be an order of protection, a child’s testimony that will be entered into evidence must be presented in front of all the parties involved.

Obviously, asking a child to testify in front of the parties, who are often their parent(s), in a family offense case can be a very difficult process, and it’s something that is frequently avoided at all costs, whenever possible. The reason for this is that the psychological damage a child is exposed to during such a procedure can be very significant, particularly when he or she is offering evidence against their parents.

Though a family offense proceeding is recognized as a civil proceeding, and isn’t directly about crime and punishment, it’s seen as a “quasi-criminal” case, because when family offenses are found, an order of protection can restrict someone’s freedom by forcing them to stay away from certain places and people. Additionally, these orders can prevent certain people from performing certain acts and behaving in a particular way. Continue reading ›

A family offense petition, or order of protection, can be filed in New York on the behalf of a child when a parentsuspects, or has evidence of an act of abuse or neglect initiated by another family member. To act within a child’s best interests, the New York courts must consider who should be permitted to file a family offense petition on the behalf of that child. The court inherently recognizes that a parent will always have the standing to commence a proceeding of family offense on the behalf of his or her child, under New York Family Court Act Article 8. However, grandparents and other individuals who share the same family home do not always have the same rights.

When dealing with cases that ask the court to re-consider issues of child custody and visitation, it’s important to remember that, in an effort to act in the best interests of the child, the court will not make changes to pre-existing custody orders unless there is evidence of a substantial change in circumstances that requires a need to look at whether modification is in the best interests of the child. As such, when it comes to family offense petitions made on the behalf of the child, the court must also be equally stringent about who it believes to be an appropriate individual to launch a complaint on the behalf of that child.

Usually, only a parent of the child, as recognized by the law, will be able to act on the behalf of that child when presenting an issue in court. For instance, in a case entitled Hitchcock v. Kilts, 772 N.Y.S.2d 386 (N.Y. App. Div. 3d Dep’t 2004), the family court awarded sole custody of two children to the mother during the divorce, but gave the father visitation rights. During the visitation, the oldest child told his father that his mother had slapped him, dragged him by the hair, and poured Tabasco sauce into his mouth. Those allegations led the father to file a family offense petition which was heard by the court because the father was recognized as an appropriate person to act on the behalf of the child. Though a temporary order awarded custody to the father for a short time, the order was reversed and the original order was reinstated after evidence from both parties had been presented. Continue reading ›

Resolving issues in a New York divorce through mediation is usually less expensive than asking the court to resolve them through trial. However, certain conditions are necessary to mediate matters like property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. The primary condition that needs to be present is the ability to communicate.  Sometimes a mediator is the very thing that can work to facilitate the communication necessary to resolve the issues needed to be agreed upon to legally separate or divorce.

Unfortunately, many relationships have broken down because of difficulties communicating. When a couple engages in deceit, threats, coercive behavior, or physical violence, the relationship may be too   damaged to have a rational discussion of options, especially with regard to such matters as maintenance and child custody.  Just because any of those aspects exist, does not mean it is impossible to mediate.  As, it all starts with the willigness to try to mediate.  Last week’s blog was about situations where mediation is worth trying, even in high conflict relationships.  If one spouse is phsyically afraid of the other, because of prior domestic violence for example, it is possible that he or she may agree to things in the process of mediation in order to get away from the other spouse.

Couples that have a high degree of conflict or even abuse in their relationships may not be able to communicate with each other in a productive way, but instead they may communicate out of strong destructive emotions like extreme anger (anger is not uncommon with mediating couples or fear. In those cases, mediation is not a good option because peaceful negotiations are not possible.  I should mention, that although past performance is not predictive of future results, I have seen a high success rate in resolving issues for the couples that have agreed to mediate.  But today’s blog is about a case, not one of mine, in which at least one of the parties to a mediation had second thought afterwards. Continue reading ›

Restraining Orders for protection of a person in New York Family Law are called Orders of Protection. It’shelpful to know the proper legal names under each state of what it is people are seeking.  Restraining order and orders of protection (aka protective orders), for example, can mean different things.

Orders of protection in New York may be granted to protect the alleged victims of crimes as part of a criminal case against the accused perpetrator. But, without a criminal prosecution going on, if people are “family” such as: blood relations, share a child in common, are defined as family under the law, members of the same household or in intimate relationships, orders of protection are possible to require a person to stay away from another or refrain from communication or doing certain acts against the protected party. Sometimes people simply want orders of protection but do not wish for the alleged abuser to have a criminal case against them. Please see my other blog entries and website for more information about Family Offenses, and Orders of Protection in family law and divorce cases. I have represented many alleged victims and at other times people accused in connection with order of protection matters. Continue reading ›

The Difference between Family Court and Criminal Court Orders of Protection in New York

An order of protection is an official document issued by the court with the intention to limit the behavior of someone who has been alleged to harm or threaten another person. These orders are used in addressing numerous claimed safety issues, including matters of domestic violence. Supreme courts, family courts, and criminal courts are all permitted to issue orders of protection. So what’s the difference between an order of protection in family court, and one that is issued in criminal court?

First things first, a family court case is not regarded as a criminal proceeding. This means that for an order of protection to be permanently granted in family court, unless an agreement is made for the order, the petitioner would need to prove their case with the assistance of an experienced family law attorney by a “preponderance of the evidence” rather than the higher burden of proof in criminal matters . In criminal cases, if a plea deal has not been made, the case needs to proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” for a final order of protection to be issued. The accused must is convicted of a violation of the Penal Law, which requires a higher burden of proof than is expected in family court. Continue reading ›

People dealing with allegations involving domestic violence, concerning family, as defined under New York law, whether as the victim or the accused, have different forums in New York that they might find handling their case.  Family can be blood relations, people with children in common, and people in intimate relationships.  Please call or see our other blog entries or website for more information on what is defined as a family under New York Law.

Orders of protection may be granted to protect a spouse and/or children by the Supreme Court as part of a divorce or matrimonial proceedings.  An order of protection case, aka a Family Offense, might be started in the Family Courts.  Unlike when someone receives an order of protection through a criminal court, a Family Offense proceeding is not about crime and punishment.  The Supreme Court, Family Courts and the Criminal courts, however, can order incarceration if orders of protection are violated. Continue reading ›

Orders of protection can be issued by either the Family Court or the Supreme Court as part of a child custody case or divorce in New York. My previous blog articles concerning orders of protection in family law matters focused on the most common method that orders of protection cases occur against family members, outside of criminal prosecutions, which is called a Family Offense proceeding.  Later in this article I will discuss some of the differences between the orders of protection in custody cases from Family Offense petitions.  First, though, I will outline the order of protection authority given to the courts in child custody cases pursuant to the New York Family Court Act (for family court cases) and the New York Domestic Relations Law (for Supreme Court matters like divorces).

On good cause, the Family Court Act authorizes temporary orders of protection to be issued as part of a custody case. The temporary order may stay in effect for as long as the case is pending.  Under the law, the length of time any temporary order of protection is in effect does not need to be a consideration on how long a final order of protection should be in force.  A final order, or permanent order of protection, can be issued as part of a divorce or custody case to help with or as a condition of the judgment of divorce or custody order.  As the standard is in all child custody matters, whether or not the order of protection is proper would be controlled by the children’s best interests.

The order can require a party to the case to obey certain conditions of behavior like to: stay away from the children or parent; refrain from activities that put a child’s welfare at risk; take an educational class; pay for treatment or medical care that stem from the reasons that require the order or protection; pay lawyer fees of the protected party; not injure a pet of the child or a parent; to give back identification of the other party like drivers licenses, passports, etc.; observe other conditions required to protect. The orders of protection contemplated in this article are between family members, in a custody case, as defined in the law.  Family under the law includes spouses, former spouses, household members, and people that have a child together among other specific situations.  The law also allows the court to give the protected party authority to terminate a lease under the Real Property Law. Continue reading ›

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