Molloy v. Molloy: What is “Good Cause” for an Extension of an Order of Protection

 

By: Mallory McGee

Earlier this year, the Second Department of the Appellate Division of New York, issued an opinion on the issue of extension of orders of protection for “good cause.” In Molloy v. Molloy, the petitioner/wife was granted a two-year order of protection pursuant to the Family Court Act § 842 against her husband. As the order was about to expire, the petitioner filed for a five-year extension. The Family Court of Queens County denied the motion stating that the goal of the Family Court Act § 842 was to protect victims for two years and that the petitioner failed to demonstrate the requisite standard of “good cause” to grant an extension.

 

What is “good cause” allowing for an extension of an order of protection? In Molloy, the Family Court found that the evidence presented by the petitioner of three domestic incident reports detailing violations of the first order of protection and the respondent’s girlfriend warning the petitioner that the respondent would kill petitioner once the order expired, was insufficient to support “good cause.”

 

The Appellate Division stated that the issuance of the initial order of protection did not render the extension superfluous. It cited legislative history on matters involving domestic violence which demonstrated a long standing history of protections for victims. The Appellate Division noted that lack of any abuse occurring during the term of the order does not necessitate a denial of the extension application. In reversing the Family Court and finding that the petitioner had established the “good cause” necessary to extend the order of protection, the Appellate Division held that:

“Thus, in determining whether good cause has been established, courts should consider, but are not limited by, the following factors: the nature of the relationship between the parties, taking into account their former relationship, the circumstances leading up to the entry of the initial order of protection, and the state of the relationship at the time of the request for an extension; the frequency of interaction between the parties; any subsequent instances of domestic violence or violations of the existing order of protection; and whether the current circumstances are such that concern for the safety and well-being of the petitioner is reasonable.”

 

This decision by the Court is a victory for victims of domestic violence seeking to protect themselves and their family from the effects of domestic violence. Prior to this decision, in January 2015 and in February 2016, the legislature also took to this issue by introducing and amending bill S00638A which if enacted would revise the Domestic Relations Law, Family Court Act, and Criminal Procedure Law. Specifically, this amendment would require the court to grant an order of protection for no less than five years on the outset. If the bill is passed, it will likely reduce much of the need for extensions and for petitioners to have to prove their “good cause” for an extension in court. In the meantime, should a victim of domestic violence need an extension, the Appellate Division’s ruling in Molloy will ensure that their protections are safeguarded.

One thought on “Molloy v. Molloy: What is “Good Cause” for an Extension of an Order of Protection

  1. While this ruling is a step forward in safeguarding Victims of domestic violence, unrepresented victims may not know or understand the new court standard for extension. A victim living in fear of their abuser may not be able to articulate a reasonable basis for that fear to a court, despite having a valid basis for that fear. Courts rarely have the time, patience, or care needed to get a complete story from a traumatized victim.

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