Family Court and Criminal Court actions involving Family Members
In New York State a domestic violence case can be brought in Family Court,
Criminal Court or sometimes both. It depends on the nature of the offense and the goal
of the complainant/victim.
In Westchester County New York it is common to see a family offense petition
follow a criminal matter based upon the same facts and circumstances usually
because a child is involved and a custody dispute becomes part of the
case. The Family Court is a civil court with a lower burden of proof as
opposed to the criminal court. For example, a person may be arrested in
White Plains and ordered to appear in the White Plains City Court but
the complainant may also file a family offense petition and the accused
will be required to appear in the Family Court in White Plains. Courts
in Westchetser County, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess and the Bronx are doing
is sending both the criminal matter and the Family Court matter to one
judge in the Integrated Domestic Violence part (IDV). This court is used
to handle all issues.
It is very important to have an
attorney who is knowledgeable in the criminal and family courts to represent the
best interest of either parent. It is a complex area of law and usually
involves artfully working with the Court, District Attorney, Complainant,
and perhaps a court ordered domestic violence program. The top family
court attorneys are always prepared for the various issues this presents.
Recent Family Court Decisions
Matter of Taub v Taub, 94 AD3d 901, the Family Court properly granted the husband's request
to confirm a judicial hearing officer's recommendation that the wife
be prevented from seeking additional temporary orders of protection ex
parte (without the husband present) where she had abused the judicial
process by repeatedly obtaining ex parte temporary orders of protection
based upon unsubstantiated allegations of abuse and could still go to
the police to get an order of protection where the husband would have
notice of the orders of protection.
This case is an example of how the two systems of family court and criminal
court intersect. The court can also deal with issues of custody in a domestic
Matter of Austin M., 97 AD3d 1168, the family court erred in allowing the respondent father
to have unsupervised visits with his son because the record , which contained
evidence that the respondent repeatedly lost his temper and struck his
son established that he is unable to care for the child in a safe manner
and a threat of future harm existed.
This is an example of a case that crossed into both criminal a family court
but also had an issue of custody and visitation. In this instance the
family court and/or the IDV Court is the proper forum for litigation.
criminal defense attorneys can guide a person through the criminal proceeding but a firm
knowledge of the family court would best serve a client as these areas
almost always overlap.