Order of Protection

If you or your children are subjected to physical abuse, sexual abuse, harassment, violence, threat of kidnapping, stalking, or certain other criminal acts, you can seek an order of protection from the court. Violation of an order of protection by the accused person can result in an arrest and possible incarceration.

You may seek an order of protection in family court if you are married to, divorced from, related by blood to, have a child with, are or were in an intimate relationship with the person you are accusing of the above acts.  You may also seek an order of protection in the Supreme Court. Generally this court will not issue an order of protection unless there is a separation or divorce action in that court

In addition, you can seek an order of protection in criminal court. The act that causes a person to seek an order of protection can have occurred in the past and does not have to happen at the time you are seeking the order of protection. Therefore, past acts can form the basis for an order of protection. However, you should try to seek an order of protection closer in time to the act complained about.

In fashioning an order of protection, the court has many options to try to protect you.  For instance, the court can order that the accused person:

  • Pay the reasonable attorney’s fees and disbursements the protected person had to pay in order to get the order of protection or to enforce the order of protection.
  • Not violate designated criminal conduct, which is the least intrusive form of order of protection.

In contrast, the court can issue an order directing the other party to stay away from the home, school, business or place of employment of the protected person, and to stay away from any other specified location. Such order can permit a parent, or a person entitled to visitation by a court order or a separation agreement to visit a child during certain time periods and permit a designated party to enter the residence during a specified period of time in order to remove personal belongings.

Legal Editor: Elliot Polland, April 2015 (updated March 2018)

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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