In a case of alleged abuse or harassment, the aggrieved party may seek an order of protection in either the Family Court or, if a divorce is pending, in the Supreme Court. A party may file an application requesting an order of protection and, if the court believes it justified, can obtain a temporary order of protection on the day of filing. However, as in criminal cases, the court does not presume the allegations to be truthful until the claims are either admitted by the accused party or after a full hearing on the application. Until that time, no permanent order of protection will be issued.
A temporary or permanent order of protection can either be a “no harass/refrain from” or a “stay away”. In the case of a “no harass/refrain from”, the court is less concerned about violence and directs the accused party not to harass or interfere with the petitioning party. In the case of a “stay away”, the court has concerns that the accused party poses a threat to the safety and/or well-being of the petitioning party, and directs that the accused party stay away from the applying party. Because issues related to employment and even visitation may be affected by orders of protection, it is imperative that these issues be discussed with an attorney experienced in representing clients’ needs in these very case specific applications, in either divorce proceedings or in Family Court.
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