Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence


Summary of New York State Domestic Violence and Related Laws by Subject (beginning from 1995)

Subject Categories

Confidentiality of Voter Registration Records (A.7793-A Paulin/S.6749 Savino)

Allows victims of domestic violence to apply to their county court or Family Court for an order requiring the local county board of elections to keep any registration or other records confidential. Previously, victims could only apply to Supreme Court for an order.

Signed: October 23, 2017 Chapter 396

Effective: October 23, 2017

Amends: Election Law §5-508

Legal Name Change Protection - A.2242 Bronson/S.5240 Savino

Provides greater protection for domestic violence victims seeking a legal name change.  Previously, the law allowed a waiver of the requirement to publish a name change in a designated newspaper, if the court found that publishing would jeopardize the person’s safety.   This law expands the protection to clarify that the totality of the person’s circumstances must be taken into consideration when determining the threat to safety and that specific instances or a history of threats to personal safety are  not required.

Signed: September 22, 2015   Chapter 241

Effective: September 22, 2015

Amends: Civil Rights Law §64-a

New Phone Number - A.6381-A Crespo / S.4442-A Parker

Requires phone companies to provide a new phone number, if requested by a domestic violence victim who has an order of protection -- within 15 days of the request and at no charge to the victim. This applies to land lines, but not cell phones. This option is added to the current requirement that phone companies provide an unlisted phone number or an alternative listing for requesting victims.

Signed: July 31, 2013 Chapter 202

Effective: July 31, 2013

Amends: Public Service Law §91(7)

General Business Law §399-yy

Insurance Records and Confidentiality/2012 Domestic Violence Omnibus Bill  (A.10624 Lentol/S.7638 Saland)

Enacts significant changes that will provide greater safeguards for victims and increase accountability for offenders:

  • Allows victims of domestic violence to have their insurance claims, forms, or billing correspondence for services sent to a confidential address, protecting both the details of such services and the address of the victim from the abuser who is the insurance policyholder. Victims must make a reasonable request, which the insurance company can require in writing. Applies to accident, health and salary protection insurance – effective January 1, 2013
  • Makes implementation changes to the New York State Address Confidentiality Program for domestic violence victims, established in the Department of State under Chapter 502 of the laws of 2011 – effective October 25, 2012
  • Establishes the crime of "aggravated family offense" for offenders who commit certain misdemeanor-level offenses and have a previous conviction for a specified misdemeanor or felony against a family or household member within the past five years (class E felony) – effective January 1, 3013
  • Establishes a new subdivision of "aggravated harassment in the second degree" for offenders who, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm, cause physical injury to a family or household member (A misdemeanor) – effective December 24, 2012
  • Establishes a state-level domestic violence fatality review team within the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence which will bring together state and local domestic violence-related professionals to do in-depth reviews of select intimate partner homicides and periodically report aggregate data and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature – effective April 23, 2013
  • Allows the court to consider two new factors when determining bail in family offenses cases: any violations of an order of protection and the defendant’s history of possession of a firearm – effective December 24, 2012
  • Prevents individuals charged with causing the death of a victim, or who were the subject of an order protecting the deceased, from being able to exercise control over disposition of the deceased victim’s remains, allowing family members to make these decisions and proceed with funeral and burial arrangements – effective November 24, 2012

Signed: 2012 Chapter 491

Effective: signed on October 25, 2012, enacting multiple provisions with varying effective dates

Amends: Executive Law §§108(1); 108(2)(a)(i); 108(4)(b)(i) and (c)(i); 108(6); 575(4); repeals old/adds a new §575(10)

Public Health Law §4201(2)

Insurance Law §§2612(c)(2) and(h)

Penal Law §§240.30; 240.75

Criminal Procedure Law §§510.30(2)(a); 200.63

Social Security Numbers (A.8992-A Dinowitz/S.6609 Zeldin)

Prohibits any individual or business entity from requiring individuals to disclose their social security numbers or denying services if an individual refuses to disclose. The law does not apply to government entities or if a social security number is required by law or covered under one of several exemptions included in the new law, such as, for credit or banking transactions, tax compliance, collection of child support, etc.

Signed: 2012 Chapter 372

Effective: December 12, 2012

Amends: General Business Law new §399-ddd

NYS Address Confidentiality Program (A.628-A Weinstein/S.5293 Ball)

Establishes a substitute address program within the NYS Department of State (DOS) to allow victims of domestic violence, who meet prescribed certification requirements, to designate the Secretary of State as their agent for receiving mail and service of process. Under the program, the DOS will forward first class mail to a participant for four years. The law establishes under what conditions the DOS may grant a waiver to a state or local agency that can sufficiently demonstrate the need to be exempted from the requirement to accept a substitute address.

Signed: 2011 Chapter 502

Effective: June 23, 2012 (implementation was amended and delayed until October 25, 2012 by passage of the Domestic Violence Omnibus Bill of 2012 - see Domestic Violence Omnibus Bills category)

Amends: Executive Law §108

Unlisted Phone Number (A.6509-B Rivera/S.5615-A Parker)

Requires participating phone companies and cable television companies who provide phone service in NYS to allow domestic violence victims who have a permanent order of protection to request an unlisted telephone number or a modified or alternative listing, free of charge, for the duration of the order. In order to be eligible, participating domestic violence victims must submit a copy of their order of protection to their phone service provider. The law also authorizes the Public Service Commission to develop any rules and regulations necessary to implement the new law and requires the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Office of Children and Family Services to assist the Commission in reporting on its use, cost and future funding options.

Signed: 2010 Chapter 327

Effective: December 11, 2010

Creates: Public Service Law §91(7)

Confidentiality of Voter Registration Records (A.9368-A Gabryczak/S.5945-A Foley)

Allows a domestic violence victim to apply to the Supreme Court in the county where the victim lives, for a court order requiring the County Board of Elections to keep her registration information, including residential address, separate and not available to the public. Victims of a family offense or violent felony, where the act resulted in emotional or physical injury, or the substantial risk of emotional or physical harm, are eligible, if they meet the definition of family/household member.

Signed: 2010 Chapter 73

Effective: May 5, 2010

Creates: Election Law §5-508

Special Absentee Ballot (A.3910-A Gabryczak/S.1535-A Morahan)

Amends a 1996 law that permitted victims of domestic violence to vote by special absentee ballot. The new 2010 amendment expands the original requirement that a victim must have left the original residence due to threats of physical harm, to now include threats of emotional harm. The new law also expands eligibility by adopting a variation on New York’s definition of family or household member, including intimate partners.

Signed: 2010 Chapter 38

Effective: April 14, 2010

Amends: Election Law §11-306

Name Change Protections (A.3468 Scarborough/S.3434 Kruger)

Extends protections for individuals seeking a name change. The NYS Civil Rights Law allowed a judge to seal court documents and other records associated with a name change, and to waive the requirement that the change be published in a local paper, if the court found that disclosing this information would jeopardize the safety of the person requesting the change. The new law requires the judge to order the sealing and safeguarding of all information from the time the case is opened, rather than waiting until a final decision is reached.

Signed: 2009 Chapter 83

Effective: July 7, 2009

Amends: Civil Rights Law §64-a(2)

Confidentiality in Civil Proceedings (A.10103 Paulin/S.522-A Saland)

Expands to civil cases the current Family Court option for judges to allow victims to keep their addresses confidential and to designate another person to receive any papers served as part of their court case. This will provide confidentiality of a victim's current address and telephone number, including that of a domestic violence residential program. Under this option, the court is required to seal victim location and contact information.

Signed: 2004 Chapter 111

Effective: June 15, 2004

Amends: Criminal Procedure Law §2103-a

Confidentiality of Domestic Violence Shelter Location (A.1141 Koon/S.7199 Balboni)

Requires that the location/address of a pending residential domestic violence program must be kept confidential in any application process involving state or local agencies. Protects a confidential address while the applying program seeks certification of compliance with various health, sanitation, fire safety, and building codes.

Signed: 2002 Chapter 178

Effective: July 11, 2002

Amends: Social Services Law §459-g(1)

Address Confidentiality/Family Court & Supreme Court (A.7751-A Weinstein/S.5134 Saland)

Establishes a mechanism for the clerk of the court, or another designated person, to receive any court papers or summons on behalf of a party, where the court finds that disclosure of an address would pose an unreasonable risk to the health or safety of the party or any child involved. The clerk, or designated person, will forward papers to the party, allowing the residential address to remain confidential. This also applies to addresses of residential domestic violence programs. Identifying information must be sealed by the court and cannot be disclosed.

Signed: 2001 Chapter 236

Effective: September 4, 2001

Amends: Family Court Act §154-b(2)

Domestic Relations Law §254

Crime Victims Board Records Confidentiality (A.8184 DiNapoli/S.5183 Nozzolio)

Adds a new section to the Executive Law to require that records and proceedings of the Crime Victims Board, regarding specific claims filed by victims, be kept confidential, with some exceptions, such as criminal justice purposes, judicial subpoenas, etc.

Signed: 1998 Chapter 64

Effective: May 21, 1998

Amends: Executive Law §633

Address Confidentiality Feasibility Study (A.2023-A Christensen/S.5083-A Maziarz)

Directs OPDV to conduct a feasibility study for a NYS address confidentiality program for domestic violence victims.

Signed: 1998 Chapter 297

Effective: July 14, 1998

Amends: Executive Law §575(10)

Special Election Ballot (A.10671 Gromack/S.6890 Hoblock)

This law creates a special election ballot for domestic violence victims who wish to vote at their Board of Elections, without having to re-register and disclose a new address. To cast a special ballot, a victim must submit a signed statement swearing: they are a victim; they were forced to leave their residence because of the violence; and because of the threat of harm to themselves or their family, they wish to cast a special ballot.

Signed: 1996 Chapter 702

Effective: October 9, 1996

Amends: Election Law §11-306

Address Confidentiality/Family Court (S.2113-B Saland/A.7843-A Weinstein)

Authorizes family court to allow the petitioner or respondent in any order of protection proceeding to keep his or her address confidential, where the court finds that disclosure of the address would substantially increase the risk of violence. The court will then designate the court clerk or another disinterested person to be the agent for service of process; the designated person shall promptly notify and forward process to the protected party.

Signed: 1995 Chapter 388

Effective: October 31, 1995

Amends: Family Court Act §154-b