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For weeks, we have been hearing about the dangers of the extreme cold that has gripped most of the country.

But it’s not just the frostbite that puts people at risk.  “Good Morning America” reports that extreme winter weather, the kind that keeps couples and families cooped up inside for days on end, will inevitably result in an uptick of domestic violence. Law enforcement officials refer to this as “cabin fever,” and note that those who have few resources to begin with have even fewer resources in extreme weather conditions. It can be tough if not impossible to take the children and leave. There may be no transportation and no place to go.

For some victims, this might be the first time their partner’s violent streak is revealed. For others, it’s just the latest episode in a long struggle.

Whatever the situation, it may be an appropriate time to think about leaving the relationship for good. Recognize however that doing so can be dangerous and requires careful planning. One of the first steps you will likely need to take is to filing for a protection order.

An order of protection is issued by the court to limit or curtail the behavior of someone who has harmed you or has threatened to harm you. A protection order can order the offending party to:

  • Keep away from you and your children;
  • Move out of your home;
  • Refrain from possessing a firearm.

When the request is made in family court, it’s a civil proceeding. You do not have to be married to receive a domestic violence protection order in New York. These orders can be issued to a current or former spouse, but they can also be obtained against anyone with whom you share a child, a family member to whom you are related by blood or marriage or anyone with whom you have an intimate relationship. (An intimate relationship doesn’t necessarily need to be sexual, though if it is not, the court will carefully weigh several factors to determine whether it qualifies as intimate.)

While some question how much protection such an order can truly offer – after all, it is merely a piece of paper – keep in mind that it is a crime to violate a protection order, whether temporary or final. If the order is not obeyed, the offending party will be arrested on the spot.

A violation doesn’t necessarily mean another violent encounter. It could be simply that he is circling your home in his vehicle. Even a phone call, e-mail or text could violate the order and result in an arrest. 

If you aren’t interested in having the party arrested, but want the violation documented, you have the option of filing the violation in family court. Most of the time, this won’t result in an arrest, but it can help to bolster your case if you are fighting for child custody or seeking a quick dissolution of the marriage.

Keep in mind that people who are violent have anger management issues, and it’s likely that announcing you are leaving them is going to set them off. That’s why we encourage the process to be done as quietly as possible. Our Brooklyn family law attorneys are experienced in handling cases involving domestic violence, and we can work with you to help you plan an effective strategy for obtaining an order of protection and if you’re married, ultimately, a divorce.

To learn more about filing an order of protection in Brooklyn, call our offices at (718) 864-2011.

Additional Resources:

‘Cabin Fever’ in Cold Weather Can Cause Uptick in Domestic Violence, Experts Say, Jan. 8, 2014, By Susan Donaldson James, Good Morning America

More Blog Entries:

Filing for a New York Divorce From a Spouse in Prison, Jan. 4, 2014, Brooklyn Family Law Attorney Blog