Family Law

Issues Between Family Members

Custody/Visitation

Child Support

Orders of Protection

Family Law

Issues Between Family Members

Domestic Violence

Family Court

Orders of Protection

New York Family Law

Family law is a general term that covers a wide-range of issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the Family Court. These issues involve matters arising between family members of any kind:

  • Unmarried couples
  • Couples already divorced
  • Domestic partnerships
  • Grandparents
  • Foster parents
  • Guardians
  • Other relatives

While custody, visitation, and child support are all aspects of family law, issues involving domestic violence (Orders of Protection), paternity, adoption, neglect, guardianship, foster care, and PINS (“Persons In Need of Supervision” – uncontrollable teenagers or children) are also under the Family Court umbrella.

What You Should Know About Family Law

Obtaining a Family Law Attorney

Originally devised as a “simplified” court for those who can’t afford a lawyer, Family law is no less serious, and no less complex, than any other form of law, and the stakes are equally high. In most situations, one is best advised to hire a lawyer, especially if Child Protective Services (CPS) is involved, or custody, domestic violence, neglect, or adoption are at stake. I have extensive experience in the Family Courts of Nassau, Suffolk, and New York City, and served on the 18-B Family Court Panel of Suffolk County for about seven years. In combination with my private practice, I have handled literally hundreds of various types of family law cases, and it is extremely important that your lawyer knows how a Family Court case can impact other areas of your life, such as criminal proceedings, social services, and immigration status. A lawyer who knows how Family Court cases impact other areas of your life can ensure that no unexpected consequences occur.

Domestic-Violence-Orders of Protection

Special Note on Domestic Violence and Orders of Protection

People often confuse the term “Restraining Order” with an “Order of Protection.” A “Restraining Order” is an order issued by a court to stop a person or company from doing something civil in nature, such as: “My neighbor keeps parking her car in front of my driveway, and I need a Restraining Order to stop her.”

An Order of Protection, however, is aimed at preventing physical violence, including domestic violence. An Order of Protection can be obtained in two places: in Family Court, or in District Court. In the Family Court, one must prove an “underlying family offense” between family members or lovers, such as stalking, harassment, sexual abuse or misconduct, assault and battery, and several others. In Family Court, an Order of Protection does not require the filing of a criminal complaint, but starts with a formal written petition.

Orders of Protection in District Court

In the District Court, an Order of Protection can be obtained against anyone, family member or not, but requires that a criminal complaint first be made to the police. Thus, if the person you need protection against is a family member or lover, you probably want to petition the case in Family Court. If the person is someone you don’t know, or only know casually, then the proper approach is to file a criminal complaint with the local police. Very often, in families, the parties don’t want a family member thrown in jail for a crime, they just want the bad behavior to stop. Therefore, the more common approach is to seek an Order of Protection in Family Court, which does not require a criminal prosecution.

Orders of Protection in Family Court

That said, Orders of Protection in Family Court are a quasi-criminal action. While the finding of a  “family offense” does not – generally – lead to a criminal conviction and sentence, if a family offense is found, an Order of Protection will be imposed. If the order is then violated, the violator can be arrested, and face a criminal charge for contempt, which is quite serious and can result in a jail sentence. In New York State, there are two types of Order of Protections: a “refrain from” order, and a “stay away from” order. A “refrain from” order requires a person to refrain from, meaning “not to do,” any number of specific acts. A “stay away from” order requires a person to have no contact whatsoever with the protected person. Depending on the situation, one or the other type of Order of Protection is more appropriate.

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