Can I Obtain an Order of Protection?

By Michael DiFalco

Domestic violence can include a physical assault, controlling, harassing behavior, financial and other abuse. If you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, you may need to seek an order of protection to keep yourself and your children safe from the offending party.

If you feel threatened, harassed, scared or abused, an order of protection might be a legal way to secure your safety and sanity. 

What is an order of protection?

An order of protection — also called a restraining order — helps limit interaction with an individual who has harmed you, threatened to harm you, harassed or otherwise committed family offenses against you or those in your household, especially children. Orders of protection are issued by family courts, criminal courts, and divorce courts.

An order of protection can order an offender to do various things, including:

  • Staying away from you and your children at all times
  • Moving out of your home 
  • Cutting off all communication
  • Refrain from engaging in assault, stalking, harassment and other family offenses 

In many high conflict cases where there is a history of domestic violence, getting an order of protection is a necessary step to keep you and your children safe. 

When is it possible to obtain an order of protection in family court?

To obtain an order of protection from the family court, you must have a certain relationship with the offender, including:

  • A current or former spouse
  • A co-parent
  • A family member
  • An individual you have had an “intimate relationship” with

Generally, you can petition the court for an order of protection if there are issues involving domestic violence. Orders of protection can help protect those who have experienced or received threats of violence, stalking, harassment and other behaviors. 

How do I file for an order of protection?

To file for an order of protection with the family court, you’ll need to fill out a family offense petition. Your petition will require specifics, including:

  • How you’re related to the offender
  • What offenses the offender committed against you/your children
  • Details regarding the incident(s) including specific dates 
  • If the offender has criminal convictions or holds firearm permits
  • What relief you seek from the court

After you complete your petition, you will see a judge. The judge will review the details of your petition and determine whether there is cause to issue a temporary order of protection. If there is, they will order a summons to be served on the offender (the respondent) and provide a date to return before the judge.

The respondent will need to be served. In most cases in New York, the sheriff or police will serve the respondent that day.

You will need to appear in court for your hearing on the date the court provides. You and the respondent will both appear in court, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask the court for a final order of protection. Lots of individuals feel it is beneficial to have an attorney present when they file and certainly when they have to appear in front of the court with the other party present. We understand why you may need an advocate to argue your case, especially with your abuser in the courtroom.

How long does an order of protection remain valid?

If the judge grants a temporary order of protection after you file your petition, the order lasts until your next court date, at which point it can be extended, modified, settled or withdrawn, or until the matter is resolved after a hearing. 

A final order of protection from a family court typically lasts from 1-2 years. Under more serious circumstances, the order can remain in place for up to five years.

Consult with a Qualified New York Family Law Attorney

Aiello & DiFalco is dedicated to all of your family law matters. With our primary office located in Garden City, we’re proud to serve families in need throughout the surrounding areas. 

Our firm understands the urgency of an order of protection and the peace of mind it can give you and your children. You can trust our skilled family law attorneys will do what is needed to pursue a fair resolution for your case. We provide care and compassion when you need it most while fiercely advocating for your rights.

Contact us today to discuss how our firm can help you.

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.