I am oftentimes asked about when an order of protection can be obtained in Family Court. You may obtain an Order of Protection in Family Court if you are related to the respondent in the following manner:
- A current or former spouse;
- Someone you have a child in common with;
- Another family member that you are related to by blood or marriage; or
- Someone that you are or have been in an “intimate relationship” with.
An intimate relationship does not necessarily mean a sexual relationship, but is more than just a casual or social relationship–the court will decide whether the relationship is intimate based upon the facts about the relationship and how long it has lasted.)
To start the process, a Petition needs to be filed that specifies the facts and circumstances outlining specific family offenses. These include aggravated harassment, assault, attempted assault, disorderly conduct, harassment, stalking, menacing, and reckless endangerment. The descriptions of these family offenses and the degrees of these offenses may be viewed here. You must plead these family offenses in order to obtain an Order of Protection.
The family offenses must be specific, not general allegations. For example, a Petition might include that ‘on or about December 20, 2013, the Respondent called me a “bad mother” in front of the children and raised his fist to me in the kitchen making me fearful that he would hit me.’ Merely saying ‘I am fearful of the Respondent’ or ‘Respondent has threatened me’ is probably not enough for a judge to sign an Order of Protection without more specific details such as the approximate date of the family offense and the sum and substance of the threat made.
A judge can order the Respondent to do things such as be removed from a household, make sure the Respondent stays away from you and your children, and prohibit the Respondent from contacting you via phone, email, etc., among other things. If an Order of Protection is violated, one can file a Violation Petition. If the court holds that the party violated the order of protection, then the judge can ultimately put the Respondent on probation or sentence him or her to jail time.