New York divorce proceedings, not to mention the agonizing months or years a marriage was in decline preceding the divorce, can bring out intense emotions between spouses. Anger, jealousy, blame – a whole range of negative feelings can come to dominate the relationship. For most couples, those emotions come out through insults, angry words, or petty acts. Sometimes, though, one spouse’s inability to control their emotions leads to acts of domestic violence.
There is no excuse for domestic violence, no matter how acrimonious a divorce may be. It is a serious criminal offense with serious consequences. But punishing those who commit such acts is one thing. Preventing acts of domestic violence and protecting victims while a divorce is pending is another.
That’s why New York law provides mechanisms through which a spouse can seek help from the judge in their divorce case. Parties can go to court to protect themselves and their children from violence and to minimize the potential for future abuse.
While a divorce is pending, a spouse who alleges that he or she has been a victim of domestic violence or other family offenses can file a motion in their divorce case asking the judge for an order of protection. A family offense is "an act which would constitute disorderly conduct, harassment in the first degree, harassment in the second degree, menacing in the third degree, reckless endangerment, assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree, or an attempted assault." N.Y. Fam. Ct. Act Section 812 (1).
If the judge enters an order of protection, he or she can prohibit the abuser from having any contact with you or your children, bar them from your home or workplace, order them to “stay away,” restrict their rights to visitation, and place other limits on their conduct. Violations of an order of protection are a serious matter, and can lead to imprisonment for contempt of court.
While criminal charges against the abuser are not necessary in order to seek and obtain an order of protection in a divorce proceeding, prosecutors can pursue a conviction at the same time an order of protection is being sought in the divorce, if one is pending or in the family court.
While orders of protection can be a useful deterrent against acts of domestic violence, victims should not hesitate to call the police in the event of abuse, violence, or harassment. Additionally, the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence offers a free, confidential, 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906. They will put you in touch with domestic violence resources and services in your area.
Clement Law: Trusted New York Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering a divorce or have a family law issue that you’d like to discuss with an experienced New York and New Jersey attorney, give Daniel Clement of Clement Law a call at (212) 683-9551 or fill out our online form to arrange for a consultation. We look forward to assisting you.