Protecting You From Domestic Violence And Abuse

If you are being hurt or harassed by your spouse before, during or after your divorce, the Court can grant an order of protection (OP) to keep your spouse away from where you live, work or visit. If your spouse violates the order of protection, you then have the legal right to report the violation and the police can arrest your spouse.

An order of a protection (also called a restraining order) is a court order that limits the behavior of an abusive spouse for a specific period of time. The hurt done by a batterer is often physical, but verbal abuse and threats are enough to get an order of protection. The order of protection will direct the abuser not to injure, threaten or harass the person who obtained the order. It may include other conditions as well.

Click here to read our Order of Protection FAQ page.

How To Obtain An Order Of Protection

To obtain an order of protection, you have three options:

  1. Family Court gives orders of protection to people who are being abused by relatives such as spouses, parents, cousins, brothers or sisters. Family court also gives orders of protection when the victim is married to the batterer or has a child with the batterer, regardless if they were ever married or lived together.
  2. Criminal Court gives orders of protection to people who are being abused by someone who is not a relative. If you are being abused by a boyfriend with whom you don't have a child, you must go to criminal court, not family court.
  3. The New York Supreme Court has jurisdiction to grant any relief that is also available in the Family Court. If you are getting a divorce you should make your application in the Supreme Court, since that Court will also be addressing all of the other aspects of your case.

Obtaining an order of protection in Family Court will only result in a criminal record for the abusive spouse if he or she violates the order. Obtaining an order of protection in Criminal Court will result in a criminal record if the batterer is found guilty of a crime.

It's up to you to decide whether getting an order of protection is going to help you or whether it will make the batterer angrier and even more likely to hurt you. If you have questions about this, you can talk to someone at The Door Legal Services Center. This is an organization that serves victims of spousal abuse and domestic violence.

Contact me, divorce attorney Robert G. Smith, for more information about orders of protection.

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