Contact the Police

If you have been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of a family member or by someone with whom you have an "intimate relationship" with, you should contact the police immediately.


File a petition in family court

Although being a victim of domestic can be emotional, it is important to write down in a clear manner, a description of the incident and of the perpetrator, prior to going to court. This will allow you to fill out the court forms in a precise and accurate manner. Remember that what you write in your petition will be tested later in court , so it is crucial to put in all of the details. In the alternative, you can hire an attorney to do the paperwork for you.


Seeing a judge

On the day you file your petition you will appear before a judge. You will need to explain to the judge what happened, why you need the order of protection, and whom if anyone you need it for besides yourself. (Children etc.,)


Serving the order of protection

If the judge grants your request for an order of protection you will need to serve the papers on the opposing party. The court will give you precise instructions on how this can be done. Often, you may go to your local police station and ask that the police serve the papers for you. You must retain the affidavit of service which should be prepared by the person who serves. You cannot serve your own papers and you must bring this affidavit to court on your next date.


Your second court appearance

On your second court appearance the opposing party must appear if they have been properly served. If they do not appear, the court may hold an inquest and issue a default order on your behalf. If the opposing party is present, they can agree to an order of protection or ask for a trial.


The trial

It is best to have a lawyer assist you in a trial. If you do not have a lawyer you will be permitted to call witnesses and introduce evidence regardless. You may also ask the opposing party and any of their witnesses questions. Your goal will be to prove that a family offense was committed.


The Disposition

The disposition is where the court will enter orders of protection and any other orders which are deemed necessary if you have proven your case. If you have not proven your case, it will be dismissed. The disposition is often concluded immediately after the trial although it can occur on a separate date.


After court is over

After your case is concluded, it is important to notify the police of any violations by the opposing party. It is also important to fully abide by the order for the full duration that it is in effect.