An “Intimate Relationship” Within the Meaning of Family Court Act 812 Does Not Necessarily Involve Sexual Intimacy
An “intimate relationship” (Family Court Act 812) must exist before one party to the relationship can petition Family Court seeking relief based upon family offenses. The Third Department determined Family Court should not have dismissed the petition on the ground that one party identified as heterosexual and the other as homosexual, indicating there was no sexual relationship. Sexual intimacy is not required to establish an “intimate relationship” under the Family Court Act. On the other hand, cohabitation, standing alone, is not enough. The matter was sent back for a determination (re: the existence of an “intimate relationship”) applying he statutory factors:
… [W]e agree with petitioner that her implicit acknowledgment that she had not had a sexual relationship with respondent did not justify Family Court ruling, as a matter of law, that the two did not have an intimate relationship within the meaning of Family Ct Act § 812 (1) (e). Initially, “the governing rule of statutory construction is that courts are obliged to interpret a statute to effectuate the intent of the Legislature, and when the statutory language is clear and unambiguous, it should be construed so as to give effect to the plain meaning of the words used” … . Turning to the relevant provision, Family Court’s subject matter jurisdiction includes family offense petitions involving people who are or were previously engaged in an “intimate relationship” (Family Ct Act § 812  [e]). Factors relevant to determining the existence of 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” (Family Ct Act § 812  [e]…).
Considering these enumerated factors, the Legislature unambiguously established that the phrase “intimate relationship” is not limited to relationships that include sexual intimacy (Family Ct Act § 812  [e]…). Matter of Arita v Goodman, 2015 NY Slip Op 07719, 3rd Dept 10-22-15