New York to Allow Civil Protection Orders for People in Dating Relationships
Friday, July 18, 2008 10:09 AM

New York Governor David A. Paterson has said that he will sign into law a bill passed by the state legislature to allow people in dating relationships, including same-sex couples, to seek civil protection orders under New York’s domestic violence law.

Currently, New York’s domestic violence law only allows family court judges to issue civil protection orders against spouses or former spouses, blood relations or the other parent of an abused person’s child, making it one of the narrowest such laws in the United States. Abused persons who do not fit into those categories can only seek an order of protection in a criminal court, which requires contacting the police, having the abuser arrested, and obtaining a prosecutor’s agreement to seek the order. According to advocates, teenagers often do not seek help through this process because they do not want to have their peers arrested, while people in same-sex relationships fear that police will not correctly assess their situation.

The expansion of the law will allow people in a wide variety of dating relationships to seek protection in family court, where the burden of proof is lower than in criminal court and no police or prosecutor involvement is required.

Compiled from: Danny Hakim, “Albany to Expand Domestic Violence Law to Include Dating Relationships,” New York Times, 10 July 2008; Besa Luci, “Cheers & Jeers of the Week: 3 Activists Share Prize; G-8 Leaders Weak on Women,” Women’s E-News, 12 July 2008