Can I Get a Restraining Order in a Same-Sex Divorce?

Up until about 100 years ago, “wife-beating” was legal in many states. Marital rape was legal well into the latter part of the 20th century. A 1978 court case in Oregon marked the first time someone stood trial for raping their spouse. Not until 1993 was marital rape a crime nationwide.

We’ve fortunately come a long way, but laws have still evolved slowly. New York’s 2011 Marriage Equality Act legalized same-sex unions. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling did the same nationwide in 2015. Law enforcement and the rest of the criminal justice system are recognizing that domestic violence involves all partners, not just opposite-sex couples.

If you fear your partner, you can get a restraining order in New York no matter your gender or your partner.

LGBTQ+ Domestic Violence Is Real

Most domestic violence awareness campaigns have focused on heterosexual relationships, yet research shows that LGBTQ+ members are victimized at equal or higher rates.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has reported the following:

  • 43.8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime (compared to 35% of heterosexual women)
  • 26% of gay men and 37.3% of bisexual men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime (compared to 29% of heterosexual men)
  • Transgender victims are more likely to experience sexual violence compared to those who do not identify as transgender

Despite these statistics, fewer than 5% of LGBTQ+ survivors sought orders of protection. Only 26% of men in same-sex relationships called the police after near-lethal violence.

Qualifying for a Restraining Order

Anyone experiencing violence from an intimate partner can seek protection. Same-sex divorce, like all divorces, runs the risk of explosive and volatile behavior. A restraining order can be especially important to safeguard against continued abuse during the divorce process.

New York provides multiple ways to obtain a restraining order. A restraining order is used by Family Court, Supreme Court, or Criminal Court. The circumstances determine which avenue is appropriate.

To get a civil order of protection in New York Family Court, you must be related by blood or marriage, be in an intimate relationship, or have a child in common with your abuser.

Specific crimes are considered family offenses and eligible for protection:

  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Menacing
  • Reckless Endangerment
  • Assault
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Strangulation
  • Coercion

The Supreme Court can grant a civil order of protection part of an ongoing divorce. Your attorney requests the order during a court appearance or through a written Motion or Order to Show Cause.

If your safety is at risk in a criminal case, the district attorney can request a protective order.

Take Steps to Protect Yourself

Domestic violence is restricted to opposite-sex relationships. Without seeking help, an abusive partner can become increasingly bold. The violence worsens. At the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr. LLC, we understand the barriers to seeking assistance. We offer non-judgmental advice about your options.

If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. The New York Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence also offers 24/7 live chat. You can also call 800-942-6906 or text 844-997-2121 for confidential support.

To understand the next steps in seeking a restraining order, schedule a consultation by calling (845) 605-4330 or completing our online form.

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