Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm back

After taking a bit of a hiatus from blogging I am officially back and ready to blog away about Family Court Issues, Divorce, Legal Issues in general, General thoughts about running a law practice and any topic that might come to mind.

After spending considerable time practicing Family and Matrimonial Law at a successful Law Firm, I started my solo legal practice April 7, 2009, so I recently celebrated my one year anniversary. I still specialize in Family and Matrimonial Law, but also draft wills. Since I was working hard on building my practice I was unable to write too much. My practice has been growing steadily, and I love my work and how rewarding it has been thus far.

Just today, I had five children returned to their mother after being removed from her care and placed in a foster home approximately 7 months ago. My client, the mother of these five children and expecting a sixth, was a victim of domestic violence and in a very controlling relationship. However, after working closely with the Administration for Children Services and an Organization known as SCO, we were able to assist her and she obtained her own housing, went through parent training, has been in counseling and has received her real estate appraisal license. Her battle with the state and the bumps in her personal life and recovery are not over, but her kids are home with her and will make her stronger and more able to succeed. We were absolutely thrilled. I’m crossing my fingers that her path only gets better, as so many people never make it as far as she has come, or begin to backtrack. I told her how much faith I have in her and am looking forward to seeing her make it.

I love my job especially on days like today. However, it amazes me how many of my clients are victims of domestic violence and saddens me that some of them do not know they are victims, do not realize they are not alone in their predicament, and how many of these women have no idea how the abuse is affecting their children, psychologically. So, I have provided some information below for those that are interested in domestic violence and wish to further inform themselves on the topic of DV.

Some Facts about Domestic Violence
a) 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. (Tjaden, Patrica and Thoennes, Nancy. National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, "Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence." 2000).

b) Almost 1/3 of all female homicides victims in the United States were killed by their intimate partner. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Intimate Partner Violence in the United States." December 2007).

c) Approximately 450,000 domestic incidents are reported annually to police departments in NYS. (DCJS Domestic Incident Report Data, 2001-2002).
Only about 48% of all violent victimizations, in 2003, were reported to police (Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, "Criminal Victimization, 2003." September 2004).
d) 84% of adults believe that domestic violence is a problem in the United States. (Harris International. "Majority of U.S. Adults Think Domestic Violence is a Serious Problem in the United States Today." June 2006).

What is Domestic Violence?

a) Domestic violence is when one person does a variety of things to control another person in an intimate relationship. The shift in power can happen very slowly, over a period of time, so that the other person cannot even remember when it happened. Or it can happen very quickly after there is some sort of commitment or some change in the level of intimacy.

b) Many people wonder if what is happening to them is domestic violence because their partner has never hit them. Physical abuse is probably what most people think of when they think about domestic violence, but it is just one of the many ways that your partner might try to gain power and control in your relationship.

Ways a person might try to gain power and control over their partner include:

a) Isolation - making it hard for you to see your friends and family; telling you that your friends and family cause problems in the relationship or are trying to "come between you."

b)Economic abuse - having complete control over the money; making you account for every penny you spend; taking your money from you.

c) Verbal, emotional, psychological abuse - calling you names; putting you down or embarrassing you in front of other people; criticizing your abilities as a partner or parent.

d) Intimidation - making you afraid with a look, action, or gesture; getting you to do something by reminding you about "what happened last time."

e) Coercion and threats - showing you a weapon and threatening to use it on you; threatening to "out" you to family, friends, or employers if you are gay or lesbian; threatening to harm your family, friends, or anyone you might go to for help.

f) Physical abuse - pushing, grabbing, hitting, slapping, punching, or kicking you.

g) Sexual abuse - forcing you to have sex when you don't want to; making you engage in sexual acts that make you uncomfortable; forcing you to engage in prostitution.

h) Using children - undermining your authority with your children; threatening to take the children away from you by kidnapping or getting custody of them; "pumping" your children for information about you.

i) Minimizing, denying, blaming - making you think the abuse is your fault; saying the abuse was caused by stress, alcohol, or problems at work; denying that the abuse happened at all.

Risks to Children
Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; possibility of increased risks to children if the abuser has unsupervised or poorly supervised visitation.
Losing children if the abuser kidnaps them or gets custody of them.
Negative impact on children as a result of "breaking up the family."

The above was information was obtained from:

So – if you are reading this and believe that you are a victim of any form of domestic violence: you can either attempt to obtain an order of protection from the Family Court of the State of New York in the County in which you reside, as I help my clients do regularly, or you can contact any of the following resources and try to get help otherwise:

NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline
1-800-942-6906TTY: 1-800-818-0656
Spanish language 1-800-942-6908Spanish language TTY: 1-800-780-7660
In NYC: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673) or dial 311TTY: 1-866-604-5350
Safe Horizon, Inc.(800) 621-HOPETTY (800) 810-744424 hour HotlineWebsite: www.safehorizon.orgSanctuary for Families(212) 349-6009Monday - Friday 9 - 5pmWebsite:

More resources can be found at: York County

If you have any questions or need help you can always contact my office at (646) 556-5989; however, we are not am emergency service and if you are having an emergency please contact 911, 311 or your local police department.

Until Next Time,

Helen M. Dukhan, Esq., LL.M. @