Integrated Domestic Violence Court


Domestic violence victims face many barriers to safety and independence.  Incomprehensible and complex court processes should not be among these barriers.  Traditionally, victims had to face several judges in up to four different court rooms to have their criminal, family and matrimonial matters resolved. Integrated Domestic Violence Courts are “one family/one judge” courts that respond to the unique nature of domestic violence with one judge handling all criminal domestic violence cases and related family issues, such as custody, visitation, civil protection orders and matrimonial actions. Integrating criminal and civil response systems is the critical next step in improving victim safety and offender accountability.

Integrated Domestic Violence Courts hold offenders to a higher level of accountability by concentrating responsibility for defendant oversight in the hands of a single judge who can monitor compliance with court orders and program mandates.  In addition, victims gain a greater voice in their cases and are better able to address critical family issues—such as safe visitation and timely support—that often impede safety and independence. Additionally, services to the victim are often on-site and coordinated.

There are over 40 integrated domestic violence courts operating in New York, including in Rensselaer, Westchester, Bronx, Rochester, Syracuse, Richmond, Queens, Tompkins, Erie, Franklin, and Suffolk counties.  The Center has provided technical assistance in planning and implementing integrated domestic violence courts in New York, across the country and around the world. (Click here to learn more)

How They Work

Integrated domestic violence courts improve the handling of domestic violence cases through the following program elements:

One Family/One Judge: A single presiding judge is cross-trained to handle all matters—criminal and civil—relating to a family. In the past, a Family Court judge might never hear about an order of protection issued in Criminal Court, or a Criminal Court judge might never learn about relevant issues that arise in Family Court. By concentrating responsibility with a single judge, the court speeds decision-making, improves defendant accountability, enhances victim safety and eliminates the potential for conflicting judicial orders. 

Defendant Monitoring: By bringing all aspects of a domestic violence case before a single judge, the court increases coordination among criminal justice and community-based social service agencies. In addition, through scheduling regular compliance dates, the court keeps close tabs on defendants and responds quickly to allegations of non-compliance.

Informed Decision-Making: By working with a wide spectrum of stakeholders—civil attorneys, law enforcement, probation, and parole—judges gain greater access to necessary information.

Greater Efficiency: By handling both criminal and civil matters in a single hearing, integrated domestic violence courts aim to reduce the number of court appearances for litigants. This speeds dispositions and streamlines the process for all participants.

Services for Victims: The courts work closely with community based victim advocates to coordinate services for victims such as crisis counseling, housing, and job training.


Partners include the New York State Unified Court System, county district attorneys, victim advocates, probation, law enforcement, civil attorneys, and the matrimonial bar.

Technical Assistance

The Center works with other jurisdictions across the country (including Alabama, Mississippi and Vermont), and around the world to improve their court response to domestic violence. Click here to learn more.

An Integrated Approach: A Court's Innovative Response to Domestic and Sexual Violence
Domestic violence can involve physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse and require litigants to participant in multiple cases in many courtrooms before many judges. The Manhattan Integrated Domestic Violence Court streamlines the process by combining a family's cases in one courtroom before a single judge. By doing so, the court promotes greater victim safety and makes it easier to link litigants to services and monitor compliance with court orders.

Featured Research


Integrating Procedural Justice in Domestic Violence Cases

Integrating Procedural Justice in Domestic Violence Cases

This fact sheet explains the concept of procedural justice and offers a few simple strategies for courts and domestic violence stakeholders to enhance procedural justice and improve outcomes for both victims and defendants.


Promoting Compliance in Domestic Violence Cases: A Morning with Judge Jerry Bowles

Promoting Compliance in Domestic Violence Cases: A Morning with Judge Jerry Bowles

Monitoring compliance with orders of protection in domestic violence cases is crucial. Circuit Court Judge Jerry Bowles of Louisville, K.Y., takes a hands-on approach to monitoring civil protection orders by conducting regular compliance review hearings. This video takes you into the courtroom to see how he holds respondents accountable while promoting the principles of procedural fairness.


Combatting Domestic Violence in Indian Country: Are Specialized Domestic Violence Courts Part of the Solution?

Combatting Domestic Violence in Indian Country: Are Specialized Domestic Violence Courts Part of the Solution?

By Kathryn Ford

Domestic violence is one of the most pressing problems facing Native American and Alaska Native communities. Although the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act recognizes the authority of tribes to prosecute non-Native offenders, more tools are needed. This paper explores whether specialized domestic violence courts, which focus on enhancing victim safety and promoting offender accountability, can be part of a multi-faceted approach for tribal justice systems to address domestic violence.


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