Family Offense

Family offense petitions are claims of domestic violence through the Family Court.  While most instances of domestic violence are claimed between spouses, it is not necessary for the parties to be married to file a family offense petition.

When a party files a family offense petition he or she must allege specific incidents of violence or abuse.  In the most serious cases a judge can order a temporary order of protection the day the petition is filed.  These orders of protection are usually set to expire on the date of the first court appearance, usually within days of the filing.

The court has the ability to order two different types of orders of protection.  The first is called a “stay-away” order of protection.  This means that the respondent must stay a certain distance away from the petitioner at all times.  The second is called a “non-offensive conduct” order of protection.  This protective order does not direct the respondent to keep a certain distance from the petitioner, but rather prevents him or her from harassing, yelling or engaging in disorderly conduct towards the petitioner.

Orders of protection can be temporary or be entered as a permanent order, which typically lasts between one and two years.

For more information please contact Ross S. Gelber at 716-632-5919 or by email at