If you are getting a divorce and your spouse has engaged in domestic violence, you may benefit from New York’s Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Part. This allows parties to consolidate their civil and criminal actions in one court to effectively process the case and avoid inconsistent rulings by multiple courts.
How Does the Integrated Domestic Violence Part Work in Divorce Cases?
Typically, a divorce action is filed in New York Supreme Court. If there is a claim of domestic violence, a party may file for an order of protection in Family Court or Criminal Court with the difference being that in criminal court, the police were involved arresting the domestic abuser. Child custody and support issues may also be addressed in Family Court.
However, problems may arise from this situation. For example, we had a case in which a client filed a criminal complaint against the spouse for domestic violence where a criminal court order of protection was obtained. Shortly thereafter, the spouse went to Family Court and asked for and received a temporary child custody order claiming that our client had an addiction issue. She then filed a divorce action in Supreme Court. Thus, the client’s case was in three different courts.
Family Court can consider the criminal complaint of domestic violence and the order of protection in determining child custody. However, Family Court cannot consider either the divorce aspect of the case or the criminal court order of protection. As a result, the parties could make different and conflicting arguments about the case in each court and therefore, there is a risk that the three courts could render inconsistent decisions.
In these types of situations, a party can go to the Integrated Domestic Violence court clerk and ask them to consider consolidating the cases in the IDV Part. If granted, the IDV court would hear the divorce, criminal and custody issues together in one consolidated court action.
What Are the Requirements for Consolidating Cases in the Integrated Domestic Violence Part?
To be eligible for the IDV Part, there must be a divorce action filed in Supreme Court and an order of protection issued by the Criminal Court. While Family Court can also grant an order of protection in domestic violence cases, cases can only move to the IDV Part if there is a Criminal Court order of protection.
Will a Parent Lose Custody Because of a Domestic Violence Claim?
New York courts utilize a ‘best interests of the child’ standard in deciding child custody. Abuse may be taken into account in deciding custody and parenting time. However, even where domestic violence is shown, the court typically will not terminate a parent’s rights. The court may impose conditions on parenting time, such as requiring supervision and parenting classes, among other things.
If your spouse is abusing you or your child and you are seeking a divorce, the IDV Part may be a good option for you. Contact us to learn how we can help you protect your rights and advocate for your interests.