Evidence of an “Intimate Relationship” Sufficient to Give Family Court Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over Family Offense Proceeding
The Second Department determined Family Court properly found that it had subject matter over a family offense proceeding based upon the expanded meaning of “members of the same family or household” to include “intimate relationships.” The petitioner did not live with the appellant at the time the family offense proceeding was brought:
The Family Court properly concluded that it had subject matter jurisdiction over this proceeding. Family Court Act § 812(1) gives the Family Court jurisdiction over family offenses committed “between spouses or former spouses, or between parent and child or between members of the same family or household.” Persons in the same family are defined as persons related by consanguinity or affinity, persons legally married to one another, persons formerly married to each other even if they no longer live in the same household, and persons with a child in common, “regardless of whether such persons have been married or have lived together at any time” (Family Ct Act § 812[d]; see Family Ct Act § 812[a], [b], [c]). The petitioner and the appellant did not live in the same household, were not related by consanguinity or affinity, were never married to each other, and did not have any children in common.
In 2008, the legislature expanded the definition of “members of the same family or household” as set forth in Family Court Act § 812(1) to include:
“persons who are not related by consanguinity or affinity and who are or have been in an intimate relationship regardless of whether such persons have lived together at any time. Factors the court may consider in determining whether a relationship is an intimate relationship’ include but are not limited to: the nature or type of relationship, regardless of whether the relationship is sexual in nature; the frequency of interaction between the persons; and the duration of the relationship. Neither a casual acquaintance nor ordinary fraternization between two individuals in business or social contexts shall be deemed to constitute an intimate relationship'” … . …
Generally, the “relationship should be direct, not one based upon a connection with a third party,” such as a child or a common boyfriend or girlfriend … . Here, however, an intimate relationship was established by the fact that the petitioner was living with the appellant’s children and their father, who had custody of them, and was acting as a stepmother to the appellant’s children … .
Frequency of contact is a significant factor in determining whether there is an “intimate relationship” within the meaning of Family Court Act § 812(1)(e) … , and it appears from this record that there is frequent contact between the appellant and the petitioner in order to arrange for the appellant’s visitation with her children. Permitting the petitioner to proceed with this matter in Family Court is consistent with the purpose of a family offense proceeding, which is to end family disruption and obtain protection … . Matter of Winston v Edwards-Clarke, 2015 NY Slip Op 02774, 2nd Dept 4-1-15