Legal Help for NY Victims of Domestic Abuse During the Covid-19 Crisis
We have all heard Coronavirus referred to as the “invisible enemy”, but during this time of mandated social distancing, the pandemic has exposed certain vulnerable segments of our population to a much more human threat as well.
For those individuals who are, or who are at risk of becoming victims of domestic violence, the inability to move freely from one location to another, has had the effect of trapping the abused with their abusers. While it has never been a simple matter to leave one’s home to seek refuge with a friend, family member, or women’s shelter, those options have been reduced to practical impossibilities due to the ever-present risk of contracting Covid-19. Moreover, news of statewide court closures furthers the impression there is nowhere left to turn. Covid-19 Raises Threat of Domestic Abuse
Though courts in New York are currently closed to most matters, certain new cases have been deemed essential, including newly filed New York Family Offense Petitions. A Family Offense Petition can be filed by one family member against another in many situations, including instances of physical abuse, sexual abuse, stalking, and harassment.
For purposes of the Family Offense Petition, “family member” is defined broadly, referring to any of the following:
- Individuals related by blood or marriage,
- Individuals who were formerly married,
- Individuals who are unrelated but have a child together, and
- Individuals who are unrelated, but who are, or have been in an intimate relationship together.
If the Judge finds good cause, a temporary order of protection may be issued by the court, requiring the offending party to stay away from the Petitioner, or else be charged with criminal contempt of a court order.
During the present COVID-19 crisis, our attorneys are available by phone 24/7 to assist you if you find yourself in a difficult and dangerous situation involving an abusive partner or family member. Also, please do not hesitate to contact us about any of your other legal needs.