Step 1: Go to court to file the petition.
In family court, you can file your petition in the county where either you or the abuser lives, or where one of the family offenses (acts) alleged in your petition took place. However, one thing to consider is that if you are living in a domestic violence shelter or other confidential location that is in a different county than where the abuser lives and where the violence took place, you may not want to file your petition in the county where you are living. If you do, the abuser will likely figure out that you filed in that county because you are living in that county and it might be easier for the abuser to find you if s/he knows what county you are living in. To find the courthouse in your area, go to NY Courthouse Locations. Note: NY State has an Address Confidentiality Program (“ACP”), which helps a victim who registers with the program to keep his/her address confidential when filing court petitions. To register, click here.
Depending on where you live, you may have the option to file your petition electronically (at a local family justice center or other organization) and make an “electronic appearance” so that the judge can question you and issue an ex parte temporary order. This electronic filing and first appearance is aimed at accommodating victims for whom going to court to file for an ex parte order would create an undue hardship or risk of harm.1
If the incident was reported to the police, you may want to bring the police report to court, if possible. Remember to bring some form of identification (a driver’s license or another picture I.D.).
At the courthouse, ask the clerk for the forms that you need to file. You can also find links to online court forms on our NY Download Court Forms page. You may be able to get help with this process through one of the domestic violence agencies listed on our NY Advocates and Shelters page.
1 NY Fam Ct Act § 153-c