NY Orders Of Protection: Biases Against Men Often Leave Children Caught In The Middle
There's no question that men are treated differently than women regarding New York orders of protection. Although biases against men have gotten somewhat better, they still exist – and oftentimes it's the children that are caught in the middle. Our New York legal expert explains how the system works.
New York Fathers' Rights Attorney
Elliot Schlissel, a New York fathers' rights attorney who has been practicing law for over 30 years and represents clients in the metropolitan New York area and Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties, explains how New York's family court system works:
It is obvious that, generally speaking, men are bigger and stronger than women. It is also obvious that sometimes women will shed a tear or two if they're unhappy. That doesn’t necessarily impact on the acts of a particular case, but unfortunately within the family court system, with police and in the criminal system, if women complain about being harassed, threatened or having some negative physical contact with a man, they are taken more seriously.
Men are often viewed as guilty until proven innocent
Schlissel says that men tend to get arrested or removed from their homes by orders of protection – and then they have to come into court where it's a situation that they're guilty until proven innocent. He explained the basic unfairness in this:
I'm certainly not against protecting women from violent and offensive men, but in many situations where I've represented men, the spouse or girlfriend will assault the man because she's upset about something.
He'll put his hands up to block a punch and sometimes he'll say, 'I've had enough of this,' and call the police. The police will come and he'll say to them, 'Look, I'm being assaulted by my wife. I called the police and I'm not looking for a problem, but I just don't want to deal with this situation.' The police interview the woman and she says, 'He hit me,' and they lock the man up. That's an unfortunate circumstance.
Different standards exist for women
Those same standards are very different when it comes to women, according to Schlissel, who says that if a man goes into family court and asks for an order of protection, it's supposed to be the same standard for getting an order of protection ex parte, meaning without the other party being in court, as the woman, and in his experience, it's not. In fact, he says that men generally get turned down, but women can make any reasonable complaint and they're granted an order of protection. He says that the result is that the man generally gets tossed out of the house.
Men may continue to have an uphill battle, but help is available
Although the system is not perfect, Schlissel says that New York men do have options available to them when it comes to Orders of Protection:
I think if it's aggressively handled by firms such as ours, men will get a fairer opportunity before the courts. Will they ever actually be as equal as they're supposed to be under the law? I don't necessarily think so. I think there's a lot of inherent biases in people's minds regarding child-rearing and men. As long as those biases exist, I think men will have an uphill battle.
If you are a father and have been treated unfairly concerning child custody, visitation and orders of protection, you can fight back. Contact an experienced New York fathers' rights lawyer to discuss your situation and evaluate what options are available to you. Although biases certainly exist, having the right representation can make all the difference.