In the case of Matter of Molloy v. Molloy 204-0766, the Appellate Division of the Second Department, an Appeals Court, reversed a lower Family Court Order and held changes to the New York Family Act in 2010 allows litigants to come to court and seek orders of protection extensions upon making a presentation of “good cause.”
History of The Case
In the Molloy case Mr. And Mrs. Molloy married in 2002. They had one child from the marriage. In 2010 Mrs. Molloy brought a proceeding in the Family Court against her husband. She claimed he committed third degree menacing, second degree reckless endangerment and third degree assault upon her. As a result of these charges the Family Court Judge issued a two (2) year order of protection for both her and the parties’ child. The order of protection was a stay away order of protection except the father could come to pick up the daughter upon court ordered visitation dates.
Extension of the Order of Protection
Before the order of protection expired, Mrs. Molloy brought an application for an extension of the order of protection. She claimed there was “good cause” as it is defined under the Family Court Act § 842 for the court to extend her order of protection up until December 1, 2018. In her moving papers she claimed her husband had violated the order of protection. She alleged he would show up at her apartment and bang on her door. On one occasion he drove his vehicle too close to her while she was going to the police station with regard to a visitation date with the parties’ child. In addition, a girlfriend of Mr. Molloy warned Mrs. Molloy he had threatened to kill her when the order of protection had expired. As a result of these allegations Mrs. Molloy filed a complaint with the police for Mr. Molloy’s violation of the order of protection. The police arrested him and he eventually plead guilty to disorderly conduct.
The Lower Court Ruling
Mrs. Molloy had brought an application before Family Court Judge Dennis Lebwohl. She requested that her prior order of protection be extended. Judge Lebwohl ruled against her. In his decision he wrote there had previously been a ruling of the criminal court with regard to an order of protection and therefore the order of protection envisioned under Family Court Act Section 842 had been achieved. Therefore, Judge Lebwohl ruled Mrs. Molloy had not met the statutory requirement of showing good cause to have her order of protection extended.
Mrs. Molloy appealed. The Appellate Division, Second Department (an appeals court) reversed Judge Lebwohl’s decision. They made this ruling based on the fact Mrs. Molloy had met the good cause standard under Family Court Act Section 842. The Appellate Division held the showing of good cause should take into consideration the relationship between the parties involved and the circumstances related to the entry of the original order of protection. In addition, the court ruled issues such as the relationship between the parties at the time the application for an extension is requested and the frequency of interaction between the parties, in addition to prior incidences of domestic violence are violations of orders of protection that should be taken into consideration as good cause. The court also held if there is reasonable concern for the safety and well being of the party who had originally received the order of protection the court is empowered to extend it.
The appeals court took into consideration that the Molloys still had a child in common and there was visitation taking place where the child was handed off from one parent to another. The court stated “therefore it is clear from the record that the petitioner’s fear that the respondent may stalk, harass, or attack her is well founded, and that the unavoidable interactions between the parties may subject her to re occurrences of violence.” The court’s ruling was that the requirement under Section 842 of the New York Family Court Act had not been met.