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Articles Posted in Order of Protection

Temporary 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. Continue reading ›

In this blog I will attempt to outline some of the elements of common family offenses, which I have seen in my practice as a New York City and Long Island Order of Protection Lawyer.  If a family offense is proven, it usually entitles the victim to an order of protection.  Under the New York Family Court Act, if someone that meets the definition of Family under the Act commits a Family Offense against the other then there should be a finding that a Family Offense has been committed and a decision as to what order of protection, if any, is appropriate among other possible dispositions.  Orders of protection might direct a person to stay away from the protected individuals and/or to refrain from committing certain acts against them, among other things.

At a hearing, facts that are not alleged in the petition, if properly objected to, may be inadmissible to prove that a family offense was committed.  Only relevant, competent and material evidence should be admitted to prove or disprove a family offense.  Each case is different and whether or not a Family Offense was committed and the appropriate action to take if there was an offense, is up to the discretion of the trier of fact or judge in each particular case within certain evidentiary requirements and standards.  Usually Family Offense cases are heard in the New York Family Courts.  They may, however, also be heard in the Supreme Court such as during a divorce case.  Often times the Family Offense case may initially be assigned to a Referee, instead of a judge, who can be given the authority by the consent of the parties to be the judge that decides the case.

Family offenses are enumerated in the New York Family Court Act and are violations and/or crimes under the New York Penal Law.  A family offense proceeding in Family Court or Supreme Court, however, is not a criminal prosecution and thus is usually simply about whether or not an order of protection should be issued.   Again, the following is not a complete list as there are many more acts or crimes enumerated under the law, but the intent is to illustrate of what might constitute some of the more common.  Continue reading ›

No matter how amicable or contentious a divorce case was, issues can arise after judgment that can be dealt with in the Supreme Court.  As a Nassau County Divorce Lawyer, I frequently defend against or bring applications in the Family Courts in Long Island, New York City and the surrounding regions of New York involving post judgment child support, child custody, maintenance or orders of protection issues for both my ex-husband and ex-wife clients.  The Supreme Court, however, is usually available to deal with these post judgment issues as well.

Sometimes, the issues must be dealt with in the Supreme Court such as for enforcement of a property settlement, an attempt to vacate certain terms of the divorce, or in the event that exclusive continuing jurisdiction is reserved in the Supreme Court for future matters involving child support, child custody, or maintenance. Often times the Supreme Court is selected to deal with issues over the Family Court as the Supreme Court can deal with the issues as part of one case, while the Family Court requires the issues to be dealt with in separate cases.  For example, support issues are assigned to a Support Magistrate while custody issues may be assigned to a Referee or a Judge in the Family Court.   This blog entry is intended to outline some of the more common issues that the Supreme Court can deal with that come up soon after or many years after a couple has divorced.  More specifics about the specific areas of law are covered in other blog entries and on my website.

Contempt or enforcement applications often come up after a divorce.  These applications are done when either the former wife or husband is asking the court to punish the other party for their disregard of the order or to help them enforce the terms of the divorce.   The contempt allegation may be that one of the parties violated:  an Order of Protection that was issued as part of the divorce; the provisions involving a property settlement; the requirement to sell the marital residence; the custody and parenting time provisions in the divorce; the terms of the payment of child support or maintenance (formerly known as alimony); or other provisions that were a part of the terms included or incorporated into the Judgment of Divorce.  Remedies for contempt could be money damages, incarceration, modification of the previous terms, or the award of attorney fees among other possibilities. Continue reading ›

People that are considered family, by the law, have the ability to get orders of protection against other family members in New York Family Court (or New York Supreme Court while in a divorce) if a Family Offense has been committed by the person against whom the order of protection would be made.  Otherwise, orders of protection can be given in favor of victims or alleged victims of crimes against the perpetrator or the defendant in a criminal prosecution.  What that means is that family members have the unique ability to get orders of protection against their family members without having the person go through the criminal prosecution system.  Of course, the victim, or alleged victim, has the right to seek a criminal prosecution instead, or in addition to, seeking the order of protection through the Family Court or Supreme Court.

If a person properly alleges a Family Offense in the petition, the court will usually grant a temporary order of protection, just based on the one sided presentation by the petitioner, for the accused to either stay away from the protected person(s) or to refrain from doing prohibited acts against that person (such as harassment, disorderly conduct, assault, etc.).  Frequently, agreements are made to settle an order of protection case for an agreement to have an order of protection in place for a specified period of time such as six months, one year, or two years with the accused not admitting any of the allegations.  If there is not an agreement for an order of protection, the court must hold a hearing to determine based on a fair preponderance of the evidence whether a family offense has been committed.  This is a much lower burden of proof than is required in a criminal case which is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the court finds a family offense was committed then the court must decide what order of protection would be appropriate to issue on a “permanent” basis which means for some duration after the completion of the case.

So, you might be wondering what is a family offense.  A family offense is defined as conduct between family members that are crimes or violations under the New York Penal Law. Section 812 of the New York Family Court Act has the list of crimes and violations that qualify as Family Offenses.  In order for a New York Family Court to award an Order of Protection after the filing of a Family Offense petition, it must find that one of these specifically enumerated Family Offenses was committed.  Since these are activities are crimes and violations under the Penal law, it is possible that the alleged perpetrator could also face criminal prosecution.  The more detailed elements of each of these family offenses can be found in the Penal law.  But remember, a family offense proceeding in family court is not a criminal prosecution, it is a civil proceeding that is usually about obtaining an order of protection not having someone put in jail.  Although, if someone violates the order of protection, jail is a distinct possibility. Continue reading ›

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