Domestic Violence in Divorce and Orders of Protection

Domestic violence is a serious — sometimes deadly — problem for family and household members in New York and across the United States. Such violence can include all types of abuse, including physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and financial.

In New York, a domestic violence victim can file a petition in Family Court for an order of protection against an abuser when the parties:

  • Are related by blood or marriage
  • Are or were legally married
  • Have a child together
  • Are or were in an intimate relationship

The goal of an order of protection is to restrict the actions of an alleged abuser, including forbidding the abuser from injuring, threatening or harassing you or your children. It may require the abuser to do any number of things:

  • Leave your shared home
  • Stay away from you and your children
  • Follow custody arrangements
  • Not carry a gun or other weapon or surrender to the Police Department a gun or other weapon

Domestic violence may affect many different aspects of divorce and child custody arrangements. If a parent is found guilty of domestic violence by a preponderance of the evidence, he or she may face the loss of child custody, restricted or supervised visitation rights, or restricted contact, depending on what the court determines is in the child’s best interest.

Many parents who are victims of abuse are afraid to file a petition for child support because of their fear of violence. However, parents who are victims of domestic violence can request to have their information kept private, including removing addresses from court forms, keeping work and residence addresses private and leaving the court separately. When awarding spousal maintenance, courts may consider domestic violence as a factor when it inhibited or continues to inhibit a spouse’s earning capacity or ability to obtain meaningful employment.

Allegations of domestic violence are serious and should not be taken lightly. Spouses and parents who are wrongfully accused of abuse face serious repercussions and should act quickly to protect their rights. A knowledgeable family attorney in Westchester and Putnam counties in New York can provide families with the help they need to protect their rights and safety during divorce.

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