What We Can Learn From The Gabby Petito Case


Janice Roven has been practicing law for over 35 years. She became involved in the area of family law because of her own very unfortunate custody battle. As a result, she understands being on both sides of the table. She provides strength, compassion, and the wisdom of personal experience.

Here, Janice explores the tragic and mysterious case of Gabby Petito’s untimely death.

The area of family law involves so many different aspects of a relationship. However, given the most recent news about the unfortunate and untimely death of Gabby Petito, I feel that it would be disingenuous not to address it and to try to provide some insight into protecting oneself. I primarily practice law in the State of New York, however, every State has a mechanism in place to protect someone who is in an abusive relationship.

It is my understanding that prior to her untimely death, the police were called due to a domestic dispute between Gabby and her fiancee. It is my understanding that the police officer was asking Gabby to reflect on her relationship. Unfortunately, the police left and Gabby remained. Imagine what would have happened if Gabby decided to leave with the officer. I would suggest that the outcome could have been different.

What could Gabby Petito have done?

  1. If Gabby was in the State of New York, she could have obtained a temporary, and then a final, Family Court Order of Protection. If Gabby was in the State of New York, she could have obtained a temporary, and then a final, Criminal Court Order of Protection. There are differences between the level of proof to obtain each of these, however, they each provide a level of protection despite each simply being pieces of paper.
  2. If you have an order of protection, either temporary or final, read what it says. There are some that are full stay-aways, and there are others that are refrain forms.
  3. If you have a full stay-away, and the person comes near you, you can call the police or return to Family Court for a violation of the temporary order. I was once involved in a hearing where we were not successful in obtaining a Final Order of Protection, but we were successful in obtaining an Order of Protection based upon the violation of Temporary Order of Protection.

If you do not feel safe, it is not your imagination. It is real. Get help. Call a friend, call a family member, call a therapist, call the police… just call. There are the steps to protect yourself. There are organizations in most cities which help people in these situations. They can walk you through the system and stand by you.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office, should you have any questions or concerns.