Governor Paterson signs amendments to Domestic Violence laws

Each year, an estimated 400,000 domestic violence incidents are reported to law enforcement in New York and approximately 300,000 calls are received by hotlines throughout the State. Close to 165,000 orders of protection are issued annually in domestic violence cases in New York. As though such numbers are not already enough, the grim economic condition has contributed in worsening the crisis. Victims of domestic violence find it increasingly difficult to take steps in the right direction under this period of financial hardship. Governor’s new Program Bill #14 R of 2009 aims to redress the situation to some extent. The Act aims to amend the “family court act, in relation to requiring attorneys for children to receive training or education in domestic violence prevention; to amend the domestic relations law, in relation to requiring the court to state on the record the domestic violence and child abuse factored into their award of custody or visitation; to amend the criminal procedure law and the family court act, in relation to orders of protection; and to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to reporting domestic violence incidents to the supervising probation department or the division of parole.”

The new bill has six purposes. The bill would: 1. require education and training on the effects of domestic violence for court-appointed attorneys for children; 2. require courts to state on the record how established incidents of domestic violence and child abuse factored into determinations of visitation or custody; 3. authorize concurrent jurisdiction in family court for certain sex offenses; 4. provide for transmission of domestic violence incident reports involving probationers or parolees to the relevant agency as soon as practicable; 5. provide that records be made available to law enforcement when there is a conviction of the violation of harassment in the second degree against a member of the same family or household; and 6. provide for extending of an order of protection during a period of incarceration.