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Obtaining An Order of Protection

What is an order of protection?

An order of protection is issued by the court to limit the behavior of someone who harms or threatens to harm another person. It is used to address various types of safety issues, including, but not limited to situations involving domestic violence. Family Courts, criminal courts, and Supreme Courts can all issue orders of protection. For information and hotline numbers for addressing situations involving domestic violence, see below.

An order of protection may direct the offending person not to injure, threaten or harass you, your family, or any other person(s) listed in the order. It may include, but is not limited to, directing him/her to:

  • stay away from you and your children
  • move out of your home
  • follow custody orders
  • pay child support
  • not have a gun

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What is the difference between a Family Court, criminal court, and Supreme Court order of protection?

A Family Court order of protection is issued as part of a civil proceeding. Its purpose is to stop violence within a family, or within an intimate relationship, and provide protection for those individuals affected. All Family Court proceedings are confidential.

To obtain an order of protection in the Family Court, your relationship to the other person must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Current or former spouse
  • Someone with whom you have a child in common
  • A family member to whom you are related by blood or marriage
  • Someone with whom you have or have had an “intimate relationship.” An intimate relationship does not have to be a sexual relationship. A relationship may be considered intimate depending on factors such as how often you see each other, or how long you have known each other. After a petition is filed, the court will decide if it is an intimate relationship.

To start a proceeding in Family Court, you need to file a form called a Family Offense petition. The person filing the petition is called the “petitioner,” and the person the petition is filed against is called the “respondent.” You can contact the Family Court in your county for help completing and filing the petition. You may also wish to speak with an attorney or domestic violence advocate before filing.

For information specific to filing an order of protection in New York City visit the Family Court Website. This page also includes helpful information about what to expect in court no matter where in New York State you live.

A criminal court order of protection is issued as a condition of a defendant’s release and/or bail in a criminal case. A criminal court order of protection may only be issued against a person who has been charged with a crime.

Criminal cases are prosecuted for the State of New York by the district attorney. Although the district attorney may start a criminal case before a person is arrested, a criminal case usually begins with a person’s arrest. The person charged with abuse is called a “defendant.” The victim of abuse is called the “complaining witness.” There does not need to be a relationship between the complaining witness and the defendant.

In a criminal case, the district attorney requests an order of protection for the victim or complaining witness. The judge decides whether to issue the order of protection and what terms and conditions will be included in the order.

A Supreme Court order of protection can be issued as part of an ongoing divorce proceeding.

If you have an ongoing divorce case and would like to request an order of protection, you may do so by making a written request by Motion or Order to Show Cause; or you may make an oral request at a court appearance. If you are represented by an attorney, your attorney may make the written or oral request for you. The judge decides whether to issue the order of protection and what terms and conditions will be included in the order.

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What can I do if someone violates an order of protection?

It is a crime to violate a temporary or final order of protection. If the subject of the order of protection does not obey the order, then you can call the police. The police will probably arrest the individual for violating the order of protection. The individual does not have to hit you to violate the order. If the individual comes to your home and the order says he/she can't, then you can call the police. You also have the right to file a violation of the order in Family Court. Filing a violation in Family Court usually will not result in arrest of the individual who has violated the order. You can choose to go to Family or criminal Court, or both.

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How can I find a court near me?

For additional information and assistance, contact your local court.

Find the court in the county in which you live:
Upstate New York
Nassau County
Suffolk County

Find the court in a county in New York City:
Family Court
Criminal Court
Supreme, Civil or Criminal

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Where can I get more help?

A person in a dangerous emergency situation requiring immediate intervention should call 911 for assistance.

For additional court information, consult CourtHelp or the Court/HelpCenters.

You can call any of these numbers – day or night. The hotline operators can answer your specific questions and direct you to further resources.

  • NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project
    212-714-1141 (24-hour English and Spanish Hotline)

  • NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline Numbers:
    English: 1-800-942-6906
    TTY: 1-800-818-0656
    Spanish: 1-800-942-6908
    TTY: 1-800-780-7660
    In NYC: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673) or dial 311
    TTY: 1-866-604-5350
For further help and information regarding what to do in a situation of domestic violence:
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Are there any domestic violence resources near where I live?

To find specific resources in your location, you can visit the web site of The New York State Coalition against Domestic Violence to view a directory of domestic violence resources listed by county.

For resources in New York City, go to the Safe Horizon web site.

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What is the Integrated Domestic Violence Court?

Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Courts help families by bringing different case types—criminal, family and matrimonial (divorce)—together to be heard by one judge. This court uses the “one family - one judge” approach for cases that involve domestic violence within a family. The judge decides which cases are appropriate for the IDV Court.

For more information regarding this court type, go to the IDV Court web site.