Domestic violence is a serious and often unreported crime. If you are the victim of domestic violence, your first step is to call 911.
You may be directed by a family member or an advocate to obtain an Order for Protection if you or your child has been a victim of domestic violence. An Order for Protection, commonly referred to as an OFP, is a Court Order prohibiting the abuser from contacting you and/or your child, either directly or through third parties. An OFP is an avenue through which a victim may obtain custody of a child they have with the abuser, and a victim may request temporary child support as well.
If you live with the person who committed or is committing abuse against you or your child, you may request that the Court remove the abuser from your home. If you wish to leave a joint home, the OFP may direct local law enforcement to escort you into the home to retrieve your personal belongings.
Once you obtain an Order for Protection, any contact the abuser has with you that violates the Order is a crime. If you have an Order for Protection and the abuser contacts you, attempts to contact you through third parties, or violates any other restraining provisions of the Order, your recourse is to immediately call the Police. You do not have to go back to Court to enforce the Order, as law enforcement has a duty to arrest and refer violations of OFPs to the County or City Attorney.
If you have been the victim of physical, mental, or emotional domestic abuse, obtaining an Order for Protection is a step towards safety for you and your children. It is important to consult with an experienced attorney prior to appearing at your OFP hearing.