Information for Victims: Orders of Protection
If your partner is arrested…
- You can apply for an Order of Protection through the criminal court.
- If your community has a Domestic Violence Court or Integrated Domestic Violence Court, your case may be heard there. In an IDVC, criminal and family aspects of your case get combined under one judge.
You can also get an Order of Protection without your partner being arrested.
You can apply for a civil Order of Protection in Family Court.
You might want to consider going this route if:
- You don’t want to risk your partner being arrested. (Maybe arrest means the loss of your partner’s needed income. Maybe you are ill, and your partner is also your caregiver. Only you can judge your priorities.)
- You’re afraid your partner will retaliate with more violence if you call the police.
- You are afraid that the police will mistreat you or your partner – based on your own past experience, or that of others in your community.
- You need an order of custody and child support, which can only be made by the Family Court.
There are other potential benefits to going through Family Court.
- You can drop a case, which you can’t do in criminal court.
- You don’t have to have a lawyer – though having one is strongly recommended.
- Records can often be sealed, unlike criminal court records which are public.
- You can request a medical support execution, which prohibits your partner from cancelling your health insurance.
NOTE: You can use both the criminal courts and the Family Court at the same time.
Whether you personally are eligible to use Family Court is up to the judge to decide – do not let anyone else tell you you’re not eligible. If you are not sure you’re eligible, go ahead and petition for an order of protection anyway. Most judges and court clerks are aware of the 2008 change in the law that gives LGBTQ victims of intimate partner violence access to Family Court, but you might want to ask your local domestic violence program to help you file the petition.