Domestic Violence and Address Confidentiality

Any person involved in a NY Family Law matter whether spouses going through a divorce or unmarried parents addressing custody and child support matters, asset distribution, separation or former intimate partners can seek to keep their address confidential.

There are clear situations where due to current or past acts of or threats of domestic violence there is a need to keep your address confidential for personal safety reasons. The law in NY allows any person involved in any matrimonial or family law matter to seek to keep their address confidential for safety reasons. There is no requirement that a person had, have or be seeking an Order of Protection.

The order of confidentiality can be requested by the person in the proceeding, the attorney for the child, or the court on it's own initiative may decide to seal and safeguard the address of a party to prevent the unreasonable risk to the health or safety of any involved person or child.

Upon such a request and until a final determination is made the court clerk must maintain the confidentiality and not disclose information that would provide the address or location of the person seeking protection. Ultimately, if there is an objection made to the request for confidentiality the court will determine whether the request should continue. Since a person could seek to withhold the location of the child without any past conduct or threat being present the court will determine if the relief should continue. This is because there have been situations where a parent wrongfully hides the child from the other parent without good or justifiable cause.

Because of the need to still be able to serve papers, the person seeking confidentiality will need to provide the court clerk with an address for the service of court papers and process. So typically the court clerk becomes the agent for the service of process and the court clerk then confidentially forwards the received papers or court orders to the confidential address without disclosure of the actual address to the other party. There is a NY State Form known as an Address Confidentiality Affirmation which should be completed.

Any person who feels threatened by an intimate partner should consider contacting any of the following people or groups for guidance and support through this process: private attorney, domestic violence support group, local county Bar Association and if there are criminal acts threatened or occurring the local police department and in the case of children the Child Protective Services agency.