Step 2: Fill out the forms.
In family court, the petition that you file for an order of protection is called a “family offense petition.” Carefully fill out the petition. You will be the “Petitioner” and the abuser will be the “Respondent.”
Many judges will automatically issue an immediate temporary ex parte order of protection on the first court date (also known as the “intake date”). Other times, the judge might issue only a summons for the other party to appear in court before issuing a temporary order or protection. If you feel that you need a temporary order to protect you right away, you should speak up and ask for one.
Read the petition for an order of protection carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Describe in detail how the abuser (respondent) injured or threatened you. Explain when and where the abuse or threats occurred. You will usually be asked to include details about the most recent incident of violence as well as prior incidents. It is important to use descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, strangling, threatening, etc.) and include details about injuries or pain you suffered, dates of the incidents, and even the specific language of threats made by the abuser if possible. For example, instead of just saying “the Respondent physically abused me and I got hurt,” it would be more informative to the judge to explain what happened, such as “the Respondent hit me in the face approximately 3 times with a closed fist causing me to get a black eye that lasted for a week.”
Note: Do not sign the form until you have shown it to a clerk. The form might need to be signed in front of a notary public or a judge.
If you do not want to put your address on the forms, the court should have a way for you to keep it confidential. Be sure to bring this to the clerk’s attention. Another possibility may be to register for NY State’s Address Confidentiality Program (“ACP”). The ACP allows a victim who registers with the program to keep his/her address confidential when filing court petitions. All mail is sent to the ACP and the ACP will send it to your actual (confidential) address. To register, click here.