Position Statement -2018
Duration of Orders of Protection in Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings and in Permanency Planning Hearings in Family Court
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”), supports the enactment of legislation lengthening the duration of Orders of Protection intended to shield children in abuse and neglect proceedings arising under the Family Court Act. The current law, which limits Orders of Protection to a mere six months to one year and provides insufficient, post-disposition extensions even in the most severe instances of abuse and neglect, leaves children vulnerable to continued harm in their own homes. This bill would allow Family Court judges to impose Orders of Protection of the same duration employed in other Family Court proceedings, such as family offense, custody, visitation, child support and paternity proceedings. Specifically, the proposed legislation allows the Court to impose Orders of the same duration that would be issued in a family offense proceeding – that is an Order or Protection shielding the child from contact with the abuser for two years, or in special circumstances, five years. This bill does not create a new Order of Protection nor does it impose any penalty or punitive action on the abuser. Instead, the bill merely closes a loop hole inadvertently created by amendments made to the Family Court Act in 2015.
The law as it currently stands is ultimately contrary to the spirit of the Family Court Act, particularly §1011, which states that the Article is intended to help and protect children from injury or mistreatment and to safeguard their physical, mental and emotional well-being. It defies all sense and logic that, in a custody or visitation matter, the Court may issue an Order of Protection that is valid until the child’s 18th birthday, but is unable to offer more than 2 years of protection in a case of extreme abuse and neglect. As an organization committed to the fair and equal administration of justice, WBASNY supports this bill that protects the most vulnerable members of our society.