During the past two weeks I have had a higher than usual number of clients either seeking or responding to Temporary Orders of Protection issued by the Family Court. Why more clients are dealing with this issue is a bit puzzling since there is nothing new about seeking an Order of Protection.
Final Orders of Protection are either issued after a hearing if a determination has been made that a "family offense" has been committed or on consent without an admission of wrongdoing. The claims usually involve allegations that the person has been physically assaulted, pushed, shoved, kicked, menaced, stalked, threatened, harassed verbally or in writing and other specified family offenses.
Whether or not a temporary or final order will be issued may depend upon the seriousness of the offense, the credibility of the person seeking and person opposing the request, other documentary evidence and the presence of witnesses. However, more often than not the incidents occur in the home and there are no witnesses. If the police were not called and there are no injuries the ability to predict success or defeat becomes murky.
Each judge has their own barometer of truthfulness, what they believe is serious and what they believe is just talk unaccompanied by any further actions to cause a threat. I have heard lawyers say that some judges give them out like candy and others require a high level of proof.
The easy and safe answer for an attorney whose client is complaining is to let the client apply for an Order of Protection if the attorney thinks there is at least a 50% chance of success. Sometimes the clients who should be getting an Order of Protection are afraid to get the help that they need. The fears are caused by financial dependence, not wanting to break-up the family, fear of other repercussions within the family or psychological abuse in which the person thinks that it is their fault.
Chances are that if you think you need an Order of Protection you probably do need one. Whether you are seeking or opposing an application for an Order of Protection it is important to receive legal advice from an experienced matrimonial attorney. The lawyers who deal with these issues on a continuous basis know the ins and outs of the proceeding and can help the client prepare for court.
If you need help with obtaining or opposing an Order of Protection please call my office to schedule a consultation to get the advice that you will need.