Getting an Order of Protection and Fighting a Restraining Order in Westchester County Family Court

My former girlfriend won’t stop calling and harassing me. Can I get a Family Court order of protection? My ex-husband comes to my office and house without my permission. He is scaring me and I am afraid I will lose my job. Can I get a restraining order in Family Court or is my only choice to have him arrested? The short answer to these questions is if you live in Westchester County or the person harassing, threatening or stalking you resides or commits these or other violations of the New York Family Court act in White Plains, Yonkers, Somers, Bedford, Scarsdale, New Castle, Armonk, Yorktown, Bronxville or Irvington, to merely name a few Westchester towns and cities, you can file a petition in Family Court for an order of protection. While the process for the most part is the same whether you are requesting a restraining order in Rockland Family Court, Putnam County Family Court, NYC Family Court or Westchester County Family Court, any request for an order of protection starts in the Westchester County Family Court located in White Plains.

Whether you are a petitioner (complainant) or a respondent (defendant), you should understand the law and how it is applied in Family Court. Remember, while the criminal courts are obviously criminal, Family Court is a civil forum and pursuing your rights in court does not preclude you from doing the same in the other. Merely a brief explanation regarding process and procedure, this blog nonetheless is valuable to both petitioners and respondents with pending actions for restraining orders in Westchester County.

From the perspective of a petitioner, you can always file a petition pro se without an attorney. Do you run the risk of misstating a fact, embellishing, or, potentially worse, failing to properly detail how you have been victimized? Absolutely. Will you be precluded or locked into to certain evidence or allegations because of a mistake you made in drafting your restraining order petition without a Family Court lawyer? Possibly. However you proceed, make sure to take certain steps to ensure Westchester County Family Court has jurisdiction and there is an indisputable Family Court Act violation.

Upon drafting and filing your petition, you and your lawyer (if you have retained an attorney) will wait to have your case calendared before a Family Court Judge. Once there, a court clerk or court officer will swear you in to provide “testimony.” No, this is not a trial, but the Family Court Judge may make inquiries about your relationship with the respondent and how he or she violated the Family Court Act. If the judge is satisfied, he or she will grant a temporary order of protection. You will then be given a return date. When you come back to court you will be required to provide proof of service upon the respondent. At this appearance, the respondent will also be before the judge barring counsel doing so in his or her absence. While the courts routinely issue temporary orders of protection when the initial petition is filed, know that a judge need not do so. You and the respondent may be required to return to litigate the matter to allow the court to render a final decision even where the judge did not issue a temporary restraining order.

Upon returning to court, you and the respondent, along with counsel, will all be present. There, the court may address issues of service as mentioned above, entertain the possibility of a motion to dismiss, ascertain whether a resolution has been or can be reached, or adjourn the case for a variety of reasons ranging from conference, possible resolution or even a hearing.

Again, without addressing all scenarios and in detail, know that as a respondent, you can accept an order of protection against you without an admission or finding of any violation of the Family Court Act. While most orders of protection, barring aggravating circumstances, are two years, both the petitioner and respondent, with the court’s approval, can find an acceptable compromise in terms of the length of the order of protection as well as the terms – full or limited restraining orders.

At bottom, there is much to know about Westchester Family Court, securing an order of protection or restraining order and the process to commence a case. Don’t be foolish in “messing up” a delicate situation where your safety or that of your family is paramount. Be thorough and put yourself in the best position to not merely have a Westchester Family Court Judge issue a temporary order of protection, but a final one upon the conclusion of your case.

To learn more about the Family Court Act as it applies to orders of protection in New York and New York Domestic Violence crimes and Laws, follow the links found within this blog and at CrottySaland.Com. There you will find significantly more information than contained in this entry.

Crotty Saland PC is a New York criminal defense and Family Court law firm represent both petitioners and respondents in Westchester Family Court order of protection petitions as well as the local Justice Courts of Westchester County. Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, the Family Court lawyers at Crotty Saland PC serve clients throughout the Hudson Valley and New York City.

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