Divorce can be an emotional, exhaustive process. This is especially true for an individual seeking a divorce from a marriage where domestic violence was present. The number one concern in these cases is ensuring safety for you and your children.

For this reason, an order of protection should be a top priority. An order of protection can direct an individual to:

  • Stay away from you and your children
  • Move out of your home
  • Follow any custody orders
  • Pay child support
  • Be barred from having a gun

Orders for protection can be distributed through family court, criminal court or the New York Supreme Court. In the case of a divorce in which domestic violence was present, the order of protection will likely come from family court. All of these proceedings are confidential. You, the petitioner, would need to file a Family Offense petition form against your spouse, the respondent, to begin the process.

Domestic violence cases can be complicated and may not fit perfectly into a specific type of court. In New York, the Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Court brings all types of cases – family, criminal and divorce – together to be heard by one judge. The judge will decide if your case is appropriate for IDV Court.

Violating an order of protection is a crime, whether that order is temporary or final. You can call the police and they will likely arrest your spouse, even if your spouse does not harm you or your children before the police arrive. You can also file a violation in family or criminal court, which doesn’t typically lead to an arrest.

If you feel you are in immediate danger, please call 911. If you are not in immediate danger, the National Domestic Violence Hotline – at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224 – can provide guidance and emotional support. A family law attorney who understands how to work through the various court proceedings can be an important advocate for you.

If you are in a domestic violence marriage, you don’t have to stay and face it alone. Get the protection you need so you and your children can move forward with a healthy, safe life.