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Orders of Protection

Learn more about what an order of protection is and how you can get one.

What is an Order of Protection

An order of protection is a court order requiring one person to do, or not do, certain things if a crime is committed

What “types” of orders of protections are there?

  • Stay-away or full orders: the parties must “stay away” and have no contact directly or through third parties
  • Refrain from or limited orders: the parties can have contact but must refrain from committing family offenses or criminal offenses (like harassing, assault, stalking, etc.)

What does an order of protection do?

Any order of protection can order someone:

  • To stay away from protected person and children and anywhere they frequent like work or school
  • Not to commit acts that would be harmful
  • To allow one party to go to residence with law enforcement to get their property
  • To return important documents to protected party
  • To allow protected person to terminate a lease
  • To surrender firearms

In addition to the above, an order of protection from Family Court can:

  • Give custody of children to the petitioner
  • Make provisions for visitation
  • Require the payment of child or spousal support
  • Require respondent to pay petitioner’s legal costs
  • Place respondent under probation supervision
  • Require respondent to pay medical costs
  • Require respondent to attend abusive partner intervention program
  • Order anything else that is required to further the purposes of protecting the petitioner and children

How do you get one?

Family Court

Family Court judges can issue an order of protection if a family offense is committed. Some examples of a family offense are: disorderly conduct, harassment, assault, sexual abuse, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, stalking and criminal mischief.

You can go to Family Court if you need an order of protection against your current or former spouse or intimate partner, the parent of your child or a person related by marriage or blood. This is also where you would go for custody, visitation, and child support. 

First you would file a family offense petition with the Family Court clerk. An advocate can guide you through this process, but you can also file alone. After filing the family offense petition, a judge will ask to speak to you. If there is good cause, the judge will issue a temporary order of protection. There will be a future court date to determine if the order of protection will remain in place. Both parties must be at this future court date.

The other person must be served with the order of protection by police for it to be valid.

Criminal Court

If the abusive partner was arrested, a judge can issue an order of protection during arraignment. This order will be temporary until the case is resolved. A “final” order of protection may be granted as a part of a plea deal or sentencing.

Supreme Court

A Supreme Court judge can issue an order of protection as a part of a divorce order.

How long does it last?

A temporary order of protection will last at least until the next court date. From there it can be extended until the matter is resolved. A Family Court order of protection can last up to two years. Under aggravating circumstances, a family court order may last up to 5 years. A final order of protection from Criminal Court can last up to 8 years depending on the matter or what crime is committed. An order of protection from Supreme Court as part of a divorce is permanent.

What happens if it's violated?

The abusive partner could be arrested and charged with criminal contempt. Criminal contempt is charged when someone ignores a court order. They may be brought back to court to have additional requirements imposed or go to jail for some period of time.

Can the protected party violate?

An order of protection exists for safety reasons, so it is never recommended to contact the person who you have an order of protection against. However, it is not legally possible for a protected party to violate an order of protection.

How do I get rid of an order of protection?

An order of protection can only be changed by a judge and it is up to their discretion. An order of protection exists for safety reasons, so it is never recommended to change or get rid of an order of protection.