The New York State Legislature passed the Fair Access to Family Court Bill last week, which will allow all victims of intimate partner violence to seek the protection of the courts. The bill will become law once signed by New York Governor David A. Paterson.
New York’s current domestic violence law is one of the narrowest in the country. It allows for civil protection only in cases of marriage and direct relation; effectively ignoring those in dating and homosexual relationships. Those in non-married relationships are currently required to go through the criminal courts in order to receive abuse protection, an intimidating prospect with both financial and emotional consequences.
“The law should reflect the times we live in,” stated Governor Paterson in a press release. “Domestic violence is an ongoing problem in today’s society. It affects a broad range of relationships I am gratified that the Legislature has recognized the seriousness of this problem and passed this common sense measure to strengthen all of New York’s families.”
According to The New York Times, the updated bill brings New York in line with the rest of the nation’s laws by making it possible for non-married persons, half of all domestic violence victims in New York, to seek the same protection from abusers in family court.
“This is a giant step forward toward recognizing that families are made up of very different situations,” said Marcia Pappas, NOW-NY chapter president. “Opening up the judicial system is never a bad idea, especially in the case of domestic violence.”