To receive an order of protection from the Family Court, the abuser must either be someone you are married to or divorced from; the parent of your child(ren); related to you by blood, such as a child, parent, or sibling; or someone who you are or have been in an intimate relationship with, regardless of whether you have lived with the abuser or whether the relationship is of a sexual nature. Initially, the order you obtain in Family Court is temporary and only becomes effective once the alleged abuser (“abuser”) is served. You cannot serve the order of protection yourself. The order of protection must be served by either the police or anyone other than you over the age of 18.
On the same day that you receive the temporary order of protection, you will get a future court date. On that date, both you and the abuser will have to go to court to appear before the judge. The abuser may either opt to admit to the petition’s allegations and consent to abide by the order or deny the allegations. If the abuser admits to the allegations in the petition and consents to abide by the order, the order will become “permanent” (meaning that the order will last for a fixed amount of time, usually one or three years) if the abuser denies the allegations a date will be set for a “fact-finding hearing,” which resembles a trial. If, after the fact finding hearing, the court finds that the abuser did indeed commit the allegations in the petition, your order of protection will become “permanent” (meaning that the order will last for a fixed amount of time, usually one or three years). If, after the fact-finding hearing, the court finds that the abuser did not commit the allegations, the case will be dismissed, and the temporary order of protection will end. If the abuser is served and fails to appear in court, the judge will either adjourn the case and schedule another time for the abuser to appear or will grant your petition in the abuser’s absence.
In Family Court, several organizations can help you file a petition for a temporary order of protection. In Yonkers Family Court and White Plains Family Court, you may seek assistance from the Pace Family Court Legal Program, as well as from the probation department of each Family Court in Westchester County.
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