The New York State
Family Court
A Guide to

The New York State
Family Court
A Guide to

Copyright, 2005 The Fund for Modern Courts

Acknowledgements
The Fund for Modern Courts would like to express its gratitude to the
Hon. Joseph M. Lauria, Administrative Judge of the New York City Family
Courts, and his staff for reviewing a draft of this guide. We also would like
to thank the numerous people from legal and social services agencies across
the state who responded to our inquiries during the drafting of this guide.
The principal author of this guide is Kimyetta R. Robinson, Director of Court
Monitoring for the Fund for Modern Courts with additional writing and
research done by Research Associate Ilona A. Lewyckyj.
The Fund for Modern Courts Executive Director Ken Jockers extensively
reviewed and edited this guide. Additional editing was done by: Modern
Courts Capital District Director Anne Marie Couser, Summer Fellow Margot
Pfohl from Kelley Drye & Warren’s Summer Associate Pro Bono Program,
Nassau County Court Monitors’ Marilyn Baker, New York County Court
Monitors’ Muriel Chess and intern Shaun James.
Funding for this guide was provided by a grant from

ii A GUIDE TO THE NEW YORK STATE FAMILY COURT
Section 1:
The New York State Unified Court System
The Courts and Judiciary of New York State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Appellate Courts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Trial Courts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Local Courts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Selection of Family Court Judges and Support Magistrates . . .3
Unified Court System Chart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Section 2:
An Introduction to the Family Court
General information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Public Access and Recording in Family Court . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Family Court Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Children’s Centers in the Family Court . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Section 3:
Who’s Who in Family Court
Judges, Support Magistrates, Court Referees,
Judicial Hearing Officers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
Court Staff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Legal Personnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Representatives of Social Services Agencies and Others . . . . . .9
Section 4:
Legal Representation and Assistance in Family Court
Litigants’ Right to an Attorney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
Children’s Right to Representation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
Client Rights and Attorney Responsibilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
Section 5:
How the Family Court Works
The Petition: How a Case Begins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
The First Court Appearance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
The Fact-Finding Hearing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
The Dispositional Hearing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
Contents
Table of

A GUIDE TO THE NEW YORK STATE FAMILY COURT
iii
Section 6:
Family Court Cases
Adoption (A Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14
Termination of Parental Rights (B Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
Juvenile Delinquency (D Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16
Designated Felony Act (E Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Support (F Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
Guardianship (G Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23
Foster Care Review (K Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24
Voluntary Foster Care Placement (L Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Consent to Marry (M Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26
Neglect and Abuse (N Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
Family Offense (O Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
Paternity (P Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32
Person in Need of Supervision (S Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (U Petition) . . . . . . . . .35
Custody and Visitation (V Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
Material Witness (W Petition) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37
Section 7:
Specialized Family Court Programs
Courts Within the Family Court . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38
Family Treatment Court . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38
Integrated Domestic Violence Court . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Youth Court . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Mediation in the Family Court . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Unified Family-Matrimonial Divisions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Section 8:
Appealing Family Court Decisions
Filing an Appeal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
Appealing Support Decisions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
Filing a Complaint Against a Judge or Attorney . . . . . . . . . . .41
Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43
Family Court Directory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55
Other Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56
About the Fund for Modern Courts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57
About the New York Bar Foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58

iv A GUIDE TO THE NEW YORK STATE FAMILY COURT

The Courts and Judiciary of New York State
The Unified Court System (UCS) consists of all of the courts in New York State. The Office of Court
Administration (OCA), the administrative arm of the UCS, is responsible for the financing and
management of these courts, including the Family Court.
The Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, as the state’s highest judicial officer, oversees the
operations of the UCS, and appoints a Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts who supervises
the standards, administrative policies, and the operation of the New York State trial courts.
The UCS is divided into the following courts:
Appellate Courts
Court of Appeals: The Court of Appeals is the highest court in the state. As the state’s court of
last resort, the Court of Appeals hears appeals from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
The court has seven judges, six associate judges and the chief judge. Court of Appeals judges are
appointed by the governor and approved by the New York State Senate for 14-year terms.
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court: The Appellate Division hears Civil, Criminal, and Family
Court appeals. There are four Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court, one in each of the state’s
four judicial departments. The governor appoints the judges for the Appellate Division from
among sitting Supreme Court judges.
Appellate Term of the Supreme Court: Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court exist in the First
and Second Departments to hear appeals from civil and criminal cases originally heard in the Civil
and Criminal Courts of the City of New York. In the Second Department, the Appellate Term also
has jurisdiction over appeals from civil and criminal cases originating in District, City, Town and
Village Courts. The chief administrative judge appoints the judges of the Appellate Term from
among sitting Supreme Court judges.
SECTION 1: THE NEW YORK STATE UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM
1
1Section
The New York State
Unified Court System

Trial Courts
Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is a statewide trial court that has the broadest jurisdiction of
any court. The Supreme Court hears civil and criminal cases, but not claims against the state (see
Court of Claims). It is the only court that handles divorces, annulments, and separations. Supreme
Court justices are elected for 14-year terms.
Family Court: The Family Court, present in every county in New York State, hears cases involving
children and families including child custody and support, neglect and abuse, juvenile
delinquency, family offenses (i.e. domestic violence), and paternity. The Family Court does not
decide divorce, annulment, or separation proceedings (see Supreme Court above). In New York
City, the mayor appoints Family Court judges. In all other counties, Family Court judges are
elected. All Family Court judges serve 10-year terms.
Surrogate’s Court: The Surrogate’s Court handles all cases involving wills, estates, and property of
deceased persons, and guardianships. The court shares authority with the Family Court in
adoption cases. Surrogate Court judges are elected for 10-year terms in most of the state (14-year
terms in New York City).
County Court: The County Court hears felony cases and civil cases involving claims of $25,000 or
less. Each county, excluding the five counties of New York City, has a County Court. The County
Courts in the Third and Fourth Departments hear appeals from cases originating in the City, Town
and Village Courts, although they primarily function as trial courts. County Court judges are
elected for 10-year terms. In some rural upstate counties, County Court judges serve
simultaneously as the local Family Court judge and/or the local surrogate.
Court of Claims: The Court of Claims is the exclusive forum for civil claims brought against the
State of New York or its state agencies. The governor appoints the judges of the Court of Claims
with approval from the state senate for 9-year terms.
Local Courts
City Courts: The City Court exists in every city in the state excluding New York City, and hears
both civil and criminal cases. Its criminal caseload includes misdemeanors, violations, traffic
offenses, and the preliminary stages of felonies. The City Court hears civil cases involving amounts
up to $15,000, small and commercial claims, and disputed traffic tickets. City Court judges are
elected to 10-year terms.
New York City Courts: The Criminal Court of the City of New York hears misdemeanors, other
violations, and the preliminary stages of felony cases. The mayor appoints Criminal Court judges
for 10-year terms.
The Civil Court of the City of New York hears all cases involving amounts less than $25,000. It
includes a Housing Part, which hears landlord and tenant matters, and a Small Claims Part that
hears claims for amounts less than $3,000. Civil Court judges are elected to 10-year terms.
District Courts: The District Court exists only in Nassau and Suffolk counties and hears
misdemeanors, violations, the preliminary stages of felony cases, civil cases involving amounts up
to $15,000, landlord and tenant matters, commercial cases, and small claims cases. The District
2 SECTION 1: THE NEW YORK STATE UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM

Court also hears traffic misdemeanors. Judges are elected to 6-year terms.
Town and Village Justice Courts: Town and Village Courts hear misdemeanors, violations, traffic
offenses, and the preliminary stages of felony cases when the offense was committed within the
town or village. The Town and Village Courts also hear civil cases involving amounts up to $3,000,
landlord and tenant matters, and small claims cases. Judges, who do not have to be attorneys,
are elected to 4-year terms.
Selection of Family Court Judges and Support Magistrates
In New York State, there are two primary methods of selecting judges: election and appointment.
Election
Currently, 75% of New York State judges are chosen through elections1, including all Family Court
judges outside of New York City. Candidates run in partisan campaigns and voters choose judges
in regular elections. The candidates, however, are not chosen through public primaries, but
through nominating conventions run by the local party leadership.
Appointment
A chief executive, such as a governor, county executive, or mayor, has the power to appoint
judges to the bench. In New York State, judges from the New York State Court of Appeals and
the Criminal and Family Courts of New York City are chosen through an appointive process know
as merit selection. A non-partisan nominating commission or committee that is comprised of
lawyers and non-lawyers drawn from a variety of sources chooses the candidates. Its agreed-upon
list of qualified candidates is then passed on to the chief executive who makes the final selection
and the actual appointment. In the case of the Court of Appeals, the state senate must confirm
the appointment.
Selection of Support Magistrates
Support magistrates are attorneys who are chosen by a screening commission and appointed by
the chief administrative judge to hear child support and uncontested paternity matters. Members
of the screening commission responsible for the selection of magistrates include the district
administrative judge of the judicial district where the candidate hopes to serve, a Family Court
judge, and a representative of the Chief Administrative Judge.
SECTION 1: THE NEW YORK STATE UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM
3
1American Judicature Society, Judicial Selection Reform: Examples from Six States, www.ajs.org

4 SECTION 1: THE NEW YORK STATE UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM
NEW YORK STATE UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM
Appellate Courts
Trial Courts
Court of Appeals
As the court of last resort in the New York State, hears appeals from other appellate courts,
and in limited cases, trial courts on questions of law (rather than factual disputes).
Supreme Court
P resent in every
c o u n t y. Has bro a d
authority over all
categories of cases,
including civil and
criminal matters
although outside of
New York City. Also
have exclusive
authority to addre s s
matters related to
t e rminating a
m a rr i a g e .
County Courts
Handle the
p rosecution of all
crimes committed
within each County
outside of New Yo r k
C i t y. Also have
limited jurisdiction in
civil cases involving
amounts up to
$25,000. Also hears
appeals from cert a i n
trial court s .
Family Courts
Hear matters
involving childre n
and families,
including custody
and visitation,
s u p p o rt, domestic
v i o l e n c e ,
d e l i n q u e n c y, child
abuse and neglect,
foster care appro v a l
and re v i e w,
adoption, and
g u a rdianship in every
county and in NYC.
S u rro g a t e ’s Court s
In every county in
the State, these
c o u rts hear all cases
involving the aff a i r s
of deceased persons,
including the
p robate of wills and
the administration of
estates, and
a d o p t i o n s .
Court of Claims
Located thro u g h o u t
the state, the Court
of Claims hears all
civil claims against
the State.
NYC Civil Court
Hears civil cases
involving amounts up
to $25,000, and civil
matters re f e rred to it
by the Supre m e
C o u rt. Includes a
small claims part for
matters not
exceeding $3,000 and
a housing part for
l a n d l o rd - t e n a n t
disputes and housing
code violations.
NYC Criminal
Court
Hears misdemeanors
and lesser off e n s e s
committed within
New York City. Also
handles pre l i m i n a ry
p roceedings in felony
c a s e s .
City Courts
P resent in 61 cities
excluding New Yo r k
C i t y. Hear
misdemeanors and
lesser offenses, and
civil claims up to
$15,000. The City
C o u rts handle
a rraignments and
p re l i m i n a ry hearings
in felony cases. Some
have separate part s
to handle small
claims or housing
m a t t e r s .
District Court s
Located in Nassau
C o u n t y, and parts of
S u ffolk County. The
District Courts hear
misdemeanors and
lesser offenses and
civil jurisdiction over
l a n d l o rd - t e n a n t
matters, claims up to
$15,000, and small
claims cases up to
$ 3 , 0 0 0 .
Town and Village
Justice Courts
Located thro u g h o u t
the State, excluding
New York City. These
c o u rts hear
misdemeanors and
lesser offenses, and
civil claims up to
$15,000. Also hear
contested traff i c
infractions and
p re l i m i n a ry
p roceedings for
those charged with
f e l o n i e s .
Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court
First and Second Judicial Departments
Hear appeals from civil and criminal cases
originating in the Civil and Criminal Courts of the
City of New York. In the Second Department, this
court has jurisdiction over appeals from civil and
criminal cases originating in District, City, Town
and Village Justice Courts.
County Courts
Hear appeals from cases originating in the City,
Town and Village Justice Courts except in the
Second Judicial Department where the Appellate
Term hears appeals from civil and criminal cases
originating in District, City, Town and Village
Justice Courts.
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court
Hears appeals from judgements or order of lower trial courts in civil and criminal cases.
Also reviews appeals taken from the Appellate Terms and County Courts (when these courts
act as appellate courts).

The Family Court Act of 1962 established the Family Court of New York State, and gave the court
jurisdiction over most cases involving families and children. The Family Court hears cases involving
such issues as the abuse and neglect of children, violence and abuse among family members,
paternity, custody and visitation, support, guardianship, persons in need of supervision (PINS),
foster care review and placement, and juvenile delinquency (all described in greater detail in
Section 4 of this guide). In addition, it shares jurisdiction in adoption cases with the Surrogate’s
Court. However, the Family Court does not handle divorce, separation or annulment proceedings,
which are reserved for the Supreme Court.
General Information
There is a Family Court in each county of New York State including the five boroughs of New
York City. These courts are open statewide Monday to Friday, from 9AM to 5PM. In addition,
some courts have a night or evening session several times a week. The courtrooms and hearing
rooms are closed at midday for a lunch recess, but areas of each building remain open to the
public during this time. A list of the locations of every Family Court in New York State can be
found at the back of this guide.
Public Access and Recording in Family Court
The Family Court is open to the public. This means that the public, including the news media,
have access to courtrooms, public waiting areas, and other common areas of the courthouse.
However, judges in Family Court may exclude the public from proceedings in which privacy is in
the best interest of the parties involved.
All proceedings in Family Court are recorded, most often by tape recording. Either party, with the
requesting party bearing the costs, can request a transcript of the recording or a duplicate copy.
SECTION 2: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE FAMILY COURT
5
2Section
An Introduction to the
Family Court

Family Court Terminology
The terms used in New York’s Family Court differ from that used in other courts, as illustrated
below:
Term
Family Court Term Definition
Plaintiff
Petitioner
The person or agency who files a petition and initiates a case
Defendant Respondent
The person or agency against whom the petition is filed, and who
responds to the petition
Trial
Fact-finding Hearing
A hearing to determine if the allegations of the petition have been proven
Sentence
Dispositional Order
The final order entered by the court following the dispositional hearing
In support and paternity cases, the adjudicator is known as a “support magistrate” rather than a
judge. Support magistrates were formerly referred to as “hearing examiners.”
Children’s Centers in Family Court
Children’s Centers have been established in Family Courts across the state in recognition of the
fact that many young children are brought to court everyday. In addition to providing children
with a safe, child-friendly place in the courthouse, these Children’s Centers link up families and
children with social services for which they may be eligible, such as Head Start, the Special
Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC), and food stamps. There
are currently 30 Children’s Centers in New York State, which have reportedly served 51,000
children since 2001.2
6 SECTION 2: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE FAMILY COURT
2New York State Unified Court System, Children’s Centers, www.courts.state.ny.us/ip/justiceforchildren/childrenscenters.shtml

Judges, Support Magistrates, Court Referees and Judicial Hearing Officers
Judge: In Family Court, the judge is in charge of the courtroom. Judges listen to witnesses,
examine evidence, and decide any legal questions that arise during the proceedings. After this
information is presented, they determine the outcome of cases and issue any necessary orders.
Support Magistrate (formerly known as a “hearing examiner”): In child and spousal support and
paternity cases, a support magistrate rather than a judge conducts the hearings. Support
magistrates listen to witnesses, examine evidence, and determine the outcome of cases based on
the information presented, issuing both orders of support and filiation. However, the decisions
made by support magistrates can be appealed to a Family Court judge.
Court Referee: A court referee is an attorney who is assigned to hear, decide and issue orders in
certain types of cases. In New York City, court referees can participate in permanency hearings,
termination hearings, and cases involving such issues as custody, visitation and the extension of
foster care placement. Generally, court referees hear cases and report their recommendations to
a Family Court judge unless the parties agree to have the referee hear and determine the
outcome of the cases.
Judicial Hearing Officer (JHO): A former or retired judge, appointed by the Chief Administrative
Judge for a one year term, assigned to hear contested paternity proceedings, custody and
visitation proceedings and family offenses matters in the Family Court. In New York City, JHOs
may also be assigned adoptions, permanency hearings, and foster care review cases. Generally,
judicial hearing officers hear cases and report their recommendations to a Family Court judge
who determines the outcome of the cases.
SECTION 3: WHOS WHO IN FAMILY COURT
7
3Section
Who’s Who in
Family Court

Court Staff
Court Attorney: A lawyer who assists the judge with legal research, drafting decisions, and
reviewing orders is known as the court attorney.
Court Clerk: The court clerk sits near the judge, support magistrate, or court referee and
supervises non-judicial personnel, prepares court orders, schedules cases, and ensures the
availability of interpreters (among other responsibilities).
Court Officer: A court officer is a uniformed security guard who maintains order in the courtroom
and public areas of the courthouse. Court officers are assigned to every courtroom and may call
parties into the hearing, administer oaths, and bring respondents to the courtroom from
detention facilities in the building.
Interpreter: The court provides interpreters for people who have difficulty with English or are
hearing impaired. In New York City, as well as in other counties with large Spanish-speaking
populations, Spanish language interpreters are usually available in the courthouse. If an
interpreter is not available, the judge may adjourn the case until one is found.
Petition Clerk: The court clerk who dockets and files petitions is known as the petition clerk. In
Family Court, petition clerks may prepare petitions in custody, visitation, family offense, paternity,
guardianship, and support cases.
Legal Personnel
Assigned Counsel: An attorney assigned by a judge to represent an adult party, who cannot
afford one, in a Family Court proceeding is known as assigned counsel. Also referred to as 18 (b)
or panel attorneys, they are generally chosen from a list of lawyers previously approved by the
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
Law Guardian: A lawyer assigned by a judge to represent the child involved in a Family Court
proceeding is known as the law guardian. Law guardians are advocates for children and represent
their interests and wishes. They participate in all aspects of a case, presenting and examining
witnesses and evidence, and arguing and negotiating on behalf of the child.
Assistant County Attorney: A lawyer who represents the county, city, or, in some cases, the
Department of Social Services is known as the assistant county attorney. These lawyers prosecute
juvenile delinquency cases and file petitions in child abuse and neglect, foster care, termination
of parental rights, and persons in need of supervision (PINS) cases. They also may represent
petitioners in child support and paternity cases, as well as the Department of Social Services in
cases where children are receiving public assistance.
Assistant Corporation Counsel: Assistant corporation counsel is a lawyer from the New York City
Law Department who represents the city in many of the same types of cases as assistant county
attorneys.
8 SECTION 3: WHOS WHO IN FAMILY COURT

Assistant District Attorney (ADA): An assistant district attorney is a lawyer from the county’s
district attorney’s office who prosecutes certain child abuse and neglect cases and juvenile
delinquency cases involving serious crimes in Family Court.
Representatives of Social Services Agencies and Others
Caseworker: A caseworker is a staff member of a county or city child protective or social services
agency. Caseworkers investigate charges of abuse and neglect, file petitions, bring case records to
court, testify at hearings, and make recommendations about what should be done for the child
involved. In addition, caseworkers work with children in foster care and with parents trying to
regain custody of them.
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA): A court appointed special advocate is a person who is
appointed by a judge to investigate, monitor, and report to the Family Court on foster care
placement cases.
Guardian Ad Litem: A person, usually an attorney, appointed by the court to represent an infant
or an adult who is mentally or physically unable to speak, or to stand in place of a parent who is
unable to appear in court, is known as a guardian ad litem. Guardians ad litem act only in the
specific litigation for which they are appointed.
Probation Officer: A probation officer works for the Department of Probation and is responsible
for investigating and preparing reports for the judge or support magistrate about the individuals
involved in a particular case. In addition, probation officers monitor compliance with court-
ordered programs, and, in some counties, help with the actual writing and filing of petitions.
SECTION 3: WHOS WHO IN FAMILY COURT
9

Litigants’ Right to an Attorney
The New York State Constitution guarantees individuals living within the state the right to
counsel in criminal proceedings and Family Court matters involving juvenile delinquency, PINS,
family offense, child abuse and neglect, and termination of parental rights.
In the Family Court, if a respondent or other party cannot afford an attorney and is entitled to
representation under state law, the court can appoint one through the Assigned Counsel Plan.
The attorneys appointed through this plan are frequently referred to as 18(b) attorneys (the law
authorizing their assignment is found in Article 18(b) of New York State’s County Law). These
attorneys are reimbursed for their services by the state through their local counties.
The initial determination that a respondent or petitioner is eligible for assigned counsel is based
on income level, and the respondent or petitioner must make an application to obtain such
counsel at the first court appearance. Similarly, many other organizations throughout the state
provide legal representation to individuals with incomes below a certain level if the respondent
or petitioner fails to qualify for assigned counsel.
Children’s Right to Representation
Children appearing in Family Court have the right to counsel in neglect and abuse, termination
of parental rights, persons in need of supervision, and juvenile delinquency proceedings. The
lawyers assigned to represent the children in these cases are known as law guardians. They may
also be assigned to help in custody, visitation, foster care review, and adoption proceedings, but
their assignment in these matters is not mandatory.
Law guardians are assigned to represent the rights and interests of the child involved in a
proceeding, and may be provided at no cost to the parents in a particular proceeding. In New
York City, Lawyers for Children, the Legal Aid Society, members of the Assigned Counsel Panel,
and other organizations contracted by the state are responsible for representing children in the
10 SECTION 4: LEGAL REPRESENTATION AND ASSISTANCE IN FAMILY COURT
4Section
Legal Representation
and Assistance in
Family Court

Family Court. Outside of the city, law guardians are generally provided by the Legal Aid Society
or selected from a list of private attorneys who have offered their services and met the approval
of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. In some custody, visitation, and juvenile
delinquency proceedings, a guardian ad litem may also be appointed by the court to stand in
place of the child’s parents.
Client Rights and Attorney Responsibilities
Privately retained attorneys should provide clients with a written retainer agreement, which
includes a statement of the client’s rights and responsibilities upon retaining counsel. Some of
these rights and responsibilities include the following:
• The client determines what the objectives of the case will be and makes any final
settlement decisions.
• The attorney must represent the client zealously and diligently.
• The attorney must keep the confidences and secrets of the client.
• The attorney is not obligated to accept a case where there is a conflict of interest or if
the attorney determines that the client or the case is without merit, or where
establishing an effective working relationship with the client would be impossible.
• The client is responsible for maintaining contact with the attorney, including informing
the attorney of any changes in personal contact information, and responding promptly
to any requests made by the attorney for information.
• If the attorney is privately retained, the client may be charged a reasonable fee and is
entitled to have all charges, fees, and bills explained from the beginning of the case.
• The client is entitled to updates about the case and to have any questions and concerns
addressed by the attorney in a prompt manner.
SECTION 4: LEGAL REPRESENTATION AND ASSISTANCE IN FAMILY COURT
11

The Petition: How a Case Begins
In Family Court, an individual or agency that wants to initiate a case - the petitioner - must first
file a petition. A petition is a written description of the circumstances of the case. The petitioner’s
attorney, petition clerk, or probation officer interviews the petitioner and prepares the petition
based on the information provided. The petition is then filed with the court. The petitioner is
subsequently given a date to appear in court. Once the petition is filed, the judge directs it to be
“served” upon or delivered to the opposing party or the respondent.
The petitions filed in
Family Court are classified
by type, with a different
letter designating each
type as illustrated at right:
12 SECTION 5: HOW THE FAMILY COURT WORKS
Type of Petition
Letter
Adoption
A
Termination of Parental Rights
B
Juvenile Delinquency
D
Designated Felony Act
E
Support
F
Guardianship
G
Foster Care Review
K
Voluntary Foster Care Placement
L
Consent to Marry
M
Neglect and Abuse
N
Family Offense
O
Paternity
P
Person in Need of Supervision
S
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
U
Custody and Visitation
V
Material Witness
W
5Section
How the
Family Court
Works

The First Court Appearance
Before it is ever heard in court or presented to a judge, a case may be referred for mediation
with the consent of the parties. However, in emergency cases where a temporary order of
protection is needed to prevent family violence, petitioners have the right to request a hearing
for the same day the petition is filed or the next available day that court is in session.
On the first court date after the petition is filed, several things can happen. The judge may read
the petition, explain the charges and demands for relief, and explain the rights of the parties. If
the parties do not have legal representation, the judge may appoint attorneys. The judge may
also issue a summons for other individuals involved in the case to appear, or order an arrest
warrant if the circumstances so require.
The Fact-Finding Hearing
A trial in Family Court is known as a fact-finding hearing. There are no jury trials in the Family
Court. Instead, the judge decides if the evidence provided by the petitioner in the form of
witnesses, testimony or written documentation is enough to prove the charges described in the
petition. The respondent also has the opportunity to refute the charges and challenge any of this
evidence. If, after considering all of the evidence provided at the fact-finding hearing, the judge
determines that the petitioner has not sufficiently proven the charges, the case must be
dismissed.
For example, after a juvenile delinquency petition is filed, a fact-finding hearing is held to
determine whether the respondent committed the alleged act and if this act constitutes a crime.
In addition, fact-finding hearings take place in abuse and neglect, family offense, PINS and
termination of parental rights proceedings.
The Dispositional Hearing
If the judge decides that the case has been sufficiently proven at the fact-finding hearing and
the charges described in the petition are true, a dispositional hearing is held to determine the
appropriate legal remedy. The dispositional hearing can be held immediately after the fact-finding
hearing, or scheduled for another day. At this hearing, the judge determines what should happen
to the parties and to any children who may be involved in the case, by issuing what is called a
dispositional order. Possible dispositional orders in juvenile delinquency, PINS, neglect and abuse,
and family offense cases include probation, adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD),
detention in a secure facility, placement of children in foster care, placement of respondent
under supervision, community service, and/or restitution.
SECTION 5: HOW THE FAMILY COURT WORKS
13

14 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
OTHER
INFORMATION
Adoption proceedings can be handled in the Family Court or in the Surrogate’s
Court.An adoption petition asks the court to grant permanent legal rights and
responsibilities for a child to an individual other than the child’s natural parents.
Children over the age of 14 must consent to the adoption.
Private Placement Adoptions: In a private placement adoption, the child’s
natural parents and the individual seeking to adopt the child reach an
agreement without the aid of a social services or adoption agency. To be
eligible for a private placement adoption, individuals must first be “pre-
certified” or approved for temporary custody of the child while the court
decides whether they are suitable adoptive parents for the child.
Before approving a private placement adoption, the court requires proof
that the biological parents consented to the adoption of the child.
Once the adoption is approved, the adoptive parents become the legal parents
of the child.
Agency Adoptions: These adoptions take place when the child is already in the
custody of a social services agency and the parental rights of the natural
parents have been terminated. The agency, such as a foster care agency,
investigates the potential adoptive parents and their home. If it finds that they
are suitable, a petition will be submitted to the court along with other
necessary documents. Generally, if the court determines that the adoptive
parents can properly care for and support the child, the adoption is approved.
Once the adoption is approved, the adoptive parents become the legal parents
of the child.
Surrender: In some cases, parents may “surrender” the child or sign a voluntary
agreement allowing for the termination of their parental rights. Surrender has
the same legal effect as a termination of parental rights, and must similarly be
approved by a judge.
A law guardian is sometimes assigned in adoption proceedings to represent
and protect the interests of the child.
Adoption
A PETITION
6Section
Family Court Cases

SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
15
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
FACT-FINDING
HEARING
A termination of parental rights petition is brought to permanently end the
legal rights of the natural parents of a child, thereby “freeing” the child for
adoption.
A foster parent or an authorized foster care or social services agency that is
responsible for the child can bring a B petition.
The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) requires the filing of a termination
petition if a child has been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months, unless
there is a compelling reason why adoption would not be in the best interests
of the child, such as the following:
• If the child is being cared for by relatives and it is determined that
termination is not in the child’s best interest
• If the parent is assessed and is making progress and there is a strong
likelihood that the child could return home in another 6 months
• If the social services agency has failed to provide the parent with the
necessary services to allow for the child’s safe return to the home
Once the petition is filed, both the summons and petition must be served upon
the respondent parent. In most cases, both parents must be served.
If the parents have been served properly, parental rights can be terminated
even if the respondent parent does not attend the hearings.
If the respondent parent cannot afford an attorney, the court must appoint one.
The following people are usually present at the fact-finding hearing:
• The petitioner’s attorney
• A social services caseworker
• The child’s law guardian
• The respondent parent
• The respondent parent’s attorney.
The judge must determine at this stage if the respondent parent:
• Permanently neglected the child for at least 12 months by failing to
maintain contact with the child and plan for the future of the child
• Legally abandoned the child for at least 6 months
• Severely or repeatedly abused the child
• Has a mental illness that prevents the parent from caring for the child
Termination of Parental Rights
B PETITION
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16 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
FACT-FINDING
HEARING
(continued)
DISPOSITIONAL
HEARING
If the judge determines that none of these grounds for termination of parental
rights exists the petition is dismissed, and the child may remain in foster care.
If, however, the judge determines that one of them has been sufficiently
proven, a dispositional hearing is scheduled.
In addition, at the end of the fact-finding hearing, the judge may order an
investigation into the surroundings, conditions, and capacities of the individuals
involved in the case and request that a report be prepared on the findings.
Such an investigation and report help clarify what is in the best interests of the
child and prepare the judge for the dispositional hearing.
At this stage of the proceedings, the judge issues a dispositional order based
on the best interests of the child. In evaluating what is in the best interests of
the child, the judge may consider the child’s own wishes if the child is over 14
years of age.
The judge may order:
• Dismissal of the petition
• Suspension of the judgment for up to 1 year
• Permanent termination of parental rights, thereby freeing the child for
adoption and committing guardianship and custody over the child to an
authorized social services agency
If parental rights are terminated, a permanency hearing must be held within
60 days to plan for the child’s future.
Termination of Parental Rights (continued)
B PETITION
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
A juvenile delinquency or D petition alleges that a juvenile, a child between
the ages of 7 and 16, committed an act that would constitute a crime if
committed by an adult.
A juvenile may be arrested and taken into custody by the police just as an
adult, and is afforded the same constitutional rights and protections. However,
every reasonable effort must be made to contact the juvenile’s parent or
guardian if such action is taken.
Juvenile Delinquency
D PETITION
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SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
17
(this chart continues on the next page)
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
(continued)
Following the arrest of a juvenile, any of the following may occur:
• A Family Court appearance ticket is issued and the juvenile is released to a
parent or guardian pending his or her appearance in Family Court
• The juvenile is taken directly to Family Court provided it is in session
• If the arresting officer believes it is necessary, the juvenile is questioned
either at a judicially approved location, or the juvenile’s residence with the
consent of a parent or guardian
• The juvenile is taken to a detention facility if the circumstances of the case
so warrant
If the juvenile is detained, the initial appearance should be held no later than
72 hours after the petition is filed or the next day court is in session, whichever
is sooner. If the juvenile is not detained, the initial appearance should be held
as soon as possible within 10 days after a petition is filed.
Probation Intake and Adjustment: Prior to appearing in Family Court, a
probation officer interviews the parties involved, including the individual
seeking to have the petition filed, the juvenile accompanied by a parent or
legal guardian, and any other interested persons, to determine whether the
matter can be settled without filing a petition. Resolving the case in this
manner is known as adjustment.
• If adjustment is not possible, a petition is filed by a presentment agency,
which is the office that in Family Court will act on behalf of the county to
prosecute juvenile delinquency cases. In New York City, the presentment
agency is the Corporation Counsel’s Office. Outside of the city, it is
generally the County Attorney’s Office.
• Adjustment cannot be used in cases being referred from the Criminal,
County, or Supreme Courts, or in cases concerning designated felony acts.
Initial Court Appearance: If the case is referred to Family Court by the
probation department, there is an initial court appearance where the juvenile,
now officially the respondent, is informed of the allegations set forth in the
petition, and advised of his or her rights. If the respondent does not have
counsel, the court appoints a law guardian for the respondent. In addition, a
copy of the petition is provided to the respondent and his or her counsel. The
case may also be referred to probation for additional attempt at adjustment.
If the respondent admits the allegations, the judge must ensure that the
respondent and the parent are aware of the respondent’s rights and the
consequences of such an admission. In addition, the judge must order the
probation department or another agency to do an investigation and report
(“I & R”) and set a dispositional hearing date.
Juvenile Delinquency (continued)
D PETITION

18 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
(continued)
FACT-FINDING
HEARING
DISPOSITIONAL
HEARING
If the respondent denies the allegations, a fact-finding hearing is scheduled.
If it is determined that the respondent should be remanded to a detention
facility pending the hearing and detained for more than 3 days, a probable
cause hearing must also be held. However, the judge may instead decide to
release the respondent to a parent or guardian, which is also known as
“parole,” pending the fact-finding hearing.
At any time prior to finding that the respondent is a juvenile delinquent,
the court may with the consent of the parties order an adjournment in
contemplation of dismissal (ACD). This means that if certain conditions are met
within a period of 6 months, the case may be dismissed.
At the fact-finding hearing, the judge must determine if the allegations have
been proven based on the evidence presented.
• If the respondent is in detention, the fact-finding hearing should begin no
more than 3 days after the initial appearance unless a probable cause
hearing is held.
• If the respondent is not in detention, the fact-finding hearing should start
no more than 60 days after the initial appearance.
If the judge determines that the allegations have been proven, the judge must
decide whether to remand or parole the respondent pending a dispositional hearing.
• The judge must also order the probation department and/or another
agency to do an investigation and report, and set the date for a
dispositional hearing.
• The dispositional hearing should be held within 10 days in cases where the
respondent is detained. In most other cases, it should be held within 50
days of the fact-finding hearing.
If the judge determines that the allegations have not been proven, the case is
dismissed, and if in detention, the respondent must be immediately released.
At the dispositional hearing, the judge must determine whether the
respondent requires any supervision, treatment or confinement.
• The report prepared by the probation department or another agency at
the judge’s request is presented along with any other relevant information.
• In addition, if the probation department or presentment agency wants to,
it may deliver an advisory statement to the judge.
• The respondent may also deliver a statement prior to the judge entering a
dispositional order.
Juvenile Delinquency (continued)
D PETITION
(this chart continues on the next page)

Juvenile Delinquency (continued)
D PETITION
Once the dispositional hearing has concluded, the judge may:
• Dismiss the case if the judge determines that the respondent does not need
supervision, treatment or confinement
• Grant an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) for up to 6 months
• Grant a conditional discharge for up to 1 year
• Order treatment or confinement
• Order probation for up to 2 years
• Place the respondent in a foster home, group home, or other institution, or
in the custody of a relative or other suitable guardian, for up to 18 months
• Order the respondent to make restitution or perform community service
• In cases of mental illness, mental retardation, or developmental disability,
place the respondent with the Commissioner of Social Services or the
Commissioner of Mental Health
The judge may also issue an order of protection requiring that the respondent
stay away from the petitioner or victim.
SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
19
(this chart continues on the next page)
DISPOSITIONAL
HEARING
(continued)
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
If a juvenile between the ages of 13 and 15 has allegedly committed a felony
such as murder, manslaughter, assault, sexual assault, attempted murder, or
burglary, the juvenile may be treated as an adult in Criminal Court. However,
these cases may be transferred by the Criminal Court to Family Court where
they are known as designated felony act petitions.
Arrest and Custody: The police may arrest juveniles alleged to have committed
a felony act and may fingerprint them while in custody. Following the arrest
and related procedures, the juvenile may be:
• Taken to Family Court provided it is in session
• Given an “appearance ticket” directing the juvenile to appear in court on a
certain date
• Taken to a detention facility (In this case, the juvenile must be brought before
a judge within 72 hours or on the next day court is in session when detained.)
As in cases of juvenile delinquency, a reasonable effort must be made to
contact the juvenile’s parent or guardian if such action is taken.
Designated Felony Act
E PETITION

20 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
(continued)
FACT-FINDING
HEARING
DISPOSITIONAL
HEARING
Initial Court Appearance: Adjustment is not an option for designated felony
acts. In the Family Court, an initial court appearance takes place where the
juvenile or respondent, is informed of the allegations in the petition and
advised of his or her rights. As in juvenile delinquency cases, the respondent is
also appointed a law guardian and given a copy of the petition.
If the respondent admits the allegations are true, the judge must ensure that
the respondent is aware of his or her rights and the consequences of such an
admission.
If the respondent denies the allegations, a fact-finding hearing is scheduled.
For cases involving designated felony acts, the fact-finding hearing must begin
within 14 days of the initial appearance.
The judge also must decide whether to release or “parole” the respondent to
a parent or guardian, or remand the respondent to a detention facility pending
the dispositional hearing.
At the fact-finding hearing, the judge must determine if the evidence
presented is sufficient to prove the allegations are true.
Following a determination that the respondent has committed a designated
felony act, the judge will order a probation investigation and a diagnostic
assessment.
The judge must also decide whether to remand or parole the respondent
pending the dispositional hearing. If the respondent is remanded for a
designated felony act, the dispositional hearing must be held within 50 days.
If the judge determines that the allegations have not been proven, the case
is dismissed, and the respondent, if held in detention, must be immediately
released.
At the dispositional hearing, the judge may order restrictive placement, or
placement in a secure facility for a specified length of time. In determining
whether to order restrictive placement, the judge must consider:
• The needs, interests, record and background of the respondent
• The nature of the offense
• The age and physical condition of the victim
• The need to protect the community
An order of restrictive placement for a Class A felony act, including murder in
the first and second degree, arson, and kidnapping, requires that the
Designated Felony Act (continued)
E PETITION
(this chart continues on the next page)

SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
21
DISPOSITIONAL
HEARING
(continued)
Designated Felony Act (continued)
E PETITION
(this chart continues on the next page)
respondent be placed for an initial period of 5 years, which may be extended
for 1 year periods up to age 21. For the first 12 to 18 months, the respondent
must be placed in a secure facility. Thereafter, the respondent may be placed in
a residential facility, secure or otherwise, for up to 12 months. The Division for
Youth must report to the court in writing on the respondent’s progress at least
once every 6 months.
When restrictive placement for designated felony acts other than a Class A
felony is ordered, the respondent is placed for an initial period of 3 years. For 6
to 12 months, the respondent must be placed in a secure facility and may
afterwards be moved to a residential facility. The Division for Youth must
report to the court in writing on the respondent’s progress at least once every
6 months.
There is no option for an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) in
cases involving designated felony acts.
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
INITIAL
HEARING
New York law requires a child’s parents to support that child until the child
reaches the age of 21. However, if a child under that age is married, self-
supporting, in the military, or otherwise emancipated, there is no such
obligation to support.
A support or F petition is filed when a parent, guardian, spouse, or other
relative wants child support from a non-custodial parent. In addition, a child
who is not yet emancipated but living away from both parents can file a
petition for child support.
The Department of Social Services or, in New York City, the Administration for
Children’s Services (ACS) can also file a petition for support in cases where a
child is receiving public assistance or is in foster care. In such cases, support is
paid to the social services agency that provides the benefits.
In most counties in the state, the parties initially appear before a support
magistrate and have the right to obtain their own legal counsel for child
support hearings. The court cannot appoint legal counsel for either party
except in very limited cases.
Support
F PETITION

22 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
INITIAL
HEARING
(continued)
FURTHER
PROCEEDINGS
If the non-custodial parent from whom support is sought fails to appear at the
hearing, the support magistrate may nevertheless proceed with the case. In
some instances, the support magistrate may issue an arrest warrant to compel
the respondent’s presence in court. However, if the petitioner fails to appear at
the hearing, the petition will be dismissed.
At the hearing, the support magistrate listens to testimony and examines other
evidence such as pay stubs, tax returns, rent receipts, and medical bills provided
by both parties to establish the income and expenses of the parties.
After examining this evidence, the support magistrate will enter an order of
support and calculate the amount of support that must be paid to the
petitioner.
The support magistrate will also set a schedule for regular payments. Child
support can be paid directly to the petitioner or the Support Collection Unit.
Payments are made directly from the payer’s paycheck.
If the parties were not married at the time of the child’s birth, paternity must
be established before the support magistrate can issue an order of support.
Both parties can appeal the support magistrate’s decision to a judge within
30 days.
A petitioner may also file a petition when a support order has been violated. If a
violation is proven, the support magistrate or a judge may order one or more of
the following:
• Enter a money judgment for arrears or unpaid late support
• Enter an income deduction order
• Require the respondent to post an undertaking or deposit with the court
clerk
• Enter an order of sequestration allowing the seizure of the respondent’s
property
• Suspend the respondent’s driving privileges
• Suspend the respondent’s business or professional license
• Sentence the respondent for up to 6 months in jail
• Place the respondent on probation
• Require the respondent to attend a rehabilitation program
• Require the respondent to pay the petitioner’s counsel fees.
Support (continued)
F PETITION
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SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
23
FURTHER
PROCEEDINGS
(continued)
OTHER
INFORMATION
Support (continued)
F PETITION
In addition, an individual who pays or receives child support in accordance with
a Family Court order has the right to petition the court to increase or decrease
the amount of support paid.
• Orders paid through SCU are reviewed in all cases where the child is
receiving public assistance, and if a party requests such reviews.
According to the New York Child Support Standards Act (CSSA), the support
magistrate or judge charged with making a child support determination may
consider the following factors, among others, in applying the formula for
deciding child support:
• The number of dependents in the relationship
• The number of hours that both parties work per week, their hourly wages,
gross annual incomes and the tax amounts withheld from their respective
incomes
• Whether or not the child receives public assistance
• The physical and emotional health of the child, as well as special needs and
aptitudes
• Other dependents of the respondent who are not part of the proceeding
The support magistrate or judge compares these factors with the total amount
due under the formula, which includes medical and school costs, to establish
the amount of child support due.
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
PROCEEDINGS
A petition for guardianship can be filed by any of the following:
• An adult relative of the child
• A close family friend
• A child protective agency that wants to assume legal responsibility for
the child
In cases where the parent of the child is suffering from a chronic or potentially
fatal illness, another individual may ask to be made a stand-by guardian in the
event that the parent becomes unable to care for the child.
The petitioner, as the individual seeking to be appointed guardian of the child,
must provide testimony and other evidence demonstrating that such an
appointment is in the best interests of the child.
Guardianship
G PETITION
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24 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
PROCEEDINGS
When a child is placed in foster care for a period of more than 12 months, a
petition to review the foster care status of the child, including the permanency
plan, must be filed in the Family Court by the social services agency responsible
for supervising the foster care.
There are five possible permanency plans:
• Return of the child to the parent
• Adoption, if parental rights are terminated or voluntarily surrendered
• Referral for legal guardianship
• Permanent placement with a fit and willing relative
• Placement in another planned permanent living arrangement, such as
independent living
At the review proceeding, which is known as a “permanency hearing,” an
attorney for the social services agency and a social worker are present along
with the natural parents, the foster parents, the child’s law guardian and any
other interested parties.
In reviewing the permanency plan, the Family Court judge will consider the
following:
• The appropriateness of the permanency plan
• The services offered to strengthen and reunite the natural family
• The reasonableness of the efforts made by the social services agency to
comply with the plan
Foster Care Review
K PETITION
(this chart continues on the next page)
PROCEEDINGS
(continued)
In addition, the probation department or a social services agency will
investigate the petitioner to determine whether it would be in the best
interests of the child for the petitioner to be made the child’s guardian
A child over the age of 14 has the right to testify in court and express a
preference for a legal guardian.
Guardianship responsibility expires when the child reaches the age of 18.
Guardianship (continued)
G PETITION

SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
25
DISPOSITIONAL
ORDER
OTHER
INFORMATION
In accordance with the best interests of the child, the judge may do any of the
following:
• Order that foster care continue for up to 1 year, and direct that the child
be placed in a specific foster home
• Order that the child be returned to the natural parents or other suitable
relative
• Order the social services agency to begin legal proceedings to terminate
parental rights so that the child can be put up for adoption
• Direct the provision of special services as well as investigations to
effectuate a plan for adoption in cases where the child is free for adoption
and has not been placed in an adoptive home for over 6 months
• Enter an order of protection where necessary
• Direct the social services agency to work with the family to strengthen the
relationship between the natural parents and the child in preparation for
their reunion
The judge may assign a court appointed special advocate (CASA) to monitor
the case.
An attorney may be assigned to any party who cannot afford legal
representation.
A law guardian is usually assigned to represent the interests of the child.
Foster Care Review (continued)
K PETITION
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
If unable to care for a child, a parent or guardian may sign what is known as a
voluntary placement agreement. This agreement allows the child to be placed
in temporary foster care through a social services agency.
The foster parents with whom a child is placed may be relatives of the child.
The child may also be placed in a group home.
If the child is to remain in foster care for longer than 30 days, the social services
agency responsible for supervising the child’s foster care must file an L petition
in Family Court.
Voluntary Foster Care Placement
L PETITION
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26 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
The Family Court has the authority to approve applications for permission to
marry where either party to the marriage is over the age of 14 but not yet
16 years old.
Consent to Marry
M PETITION
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
OTHER
INFORMATION
358(a) Hearing: A judge reviews the voluntary placement agreement signed by
the parent or guardian to determine whether the placement of the child in
foster care was both voluntary and necessary.
The judge will approve the placement as long as the following conditions are
satisfied:
• The placement was voluntary and made knowingly by the parent or
guardian
• The placement is in the best interests of the child
• Reasonable efforts were made by the social services agency to prevent the
removal of the child from the home
• Reasonable efforts were made by the social services agency to return the
child to the home before the 358(a) hearing
The judge may also make a determination as to whether the child has been
properly placed and the length of the voluntary placement.
After the child has been in foster care for 1 year, the placement will be
reviewed in a permanency hearing as required by the Adoption and Safe
Families Act (ASFA).
In most New York counties, a law guardian is appointed by the court to
represent the child in these proceedings.
A parent or guardian who cannot afford a lawyer in such cases also has the
right to have one appointed by the court.
Voluntary Foster Care Placement (continued)
L PETITION

SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
27
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
Child neglect petitions charge that the parent or guardian of a child has
harmed the child, failed to properly care for the child by providing inadequate
education or medical care, or abandoned the child.
Child abuse petitions charge that the parent or guardian of a child has
physically, sexually, mentally or emotionally injured the child.
In New York State, every alleged case of child abuse or neglect is investigated
by the county’s Department of Social Services or New York City’s Administration
for Children Services. If evidence of child neglect or abuse is found, the child
protective agency will petition the court for help with protecting the child.
In circumstances of imminent danger to a child, the Family Court Act authorizes
the child protective agency or the police to remove the child from the home
with or without a court order, even before a petition is filed.
1027 or Intake Hearing: If the child is removed from the home without a court
order, a hearing known as a “1027” must be held as soon as possible to
determine if the child should be remanded to a place designated by the court,
placed in the custody of a suitable person other than the parent or guardian,
or released to the parent or guardian pending a final order. The court may also
authorize medical treatment for the child if necessary. In all abuse cases, the
court must order an examination of the child by a doctor and may order a
similar examination in neglect cases.
Often, a 1027 hearing is held without the parent or guardian of the child being
present because of the emergency nature of the case.
Upon the filing of a petition for neglect and/or abuse, a law guardian is
assigned to the child, and a copy of the petition is served upon the parent or
guardian who officially becomes the respondent.
1028 Hearing: In many cases, the respondent parent or guardian can move to
have the child released to his or her care pending the final outcome of the
case. The hearing which takes place to consider this motion is known as a
“1028.” It is usually held within 3 days of the removal of the child from the
home or care of the parent or legal guardian. The child will be returned to the
respondent as long as the court finds that doing so would not place the child
in any imminent risk of harm.
Neglect and Abuse
N PETITION
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28 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
(continued)
FACT-FINDING
HEARING
The respondent has the right to the following in such cases:
• An attorney
• A copy of the petition
• The names of the caseworker and law guardian for the child
• The name, location, and telephone number of the foster care agency in
cases where the child has been removed
• Reasonable and regularly scheduled visits with the child unless restricted by
the court
• To request that a relative be considered as a fit foster parent
A fact-finding hearing is held to determine whether a child has been neglected
or abused. At this hearing, the child protective agency presents its case and the
respondent can challenge the evidence and present his or her own case. If the
judge determines that the allegations have not been sufficiently proven, the
child is released to the respondent. If the judge determines that the allegations
have been sufficiently proven, a dispositional hearing is scheduled to determine
what should happen to the child.
A respondent may admit or consent to a finding of abuse or neglect. Prior to
accepting such an admission, however, the judge must inform the respondent
that a finding of abuse or neglect allows the court to place the child in foster
care for up to 1 year, which may, if the respondent fails to maintain contact
with or plan for the child’s future, result in the termination of parental rights.
Also, the respondent must be made aware of the fact that a report of abuse or
neglect will remain on file in the state registry until the child is 28 years old.
Before or during the fact-finding hearing, the court may adjourn the case in
contemplation of dismissal (ACD) with the consent of the petitioner, the
respondent, and child’s law guardian. This resolution is possible when the
parties agree to essential terms and conditions, including the supervision of the
relationship of the child and respondent by a child protective agency. Unless
the case is restored to the court calendar before the end of the ACD period, a
case resolved in this manner will be dismissed.
Neglect and Abuse (continued)
N PETITION
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SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
29
DISPOSITIONAL
HEARING
OTHER
INFORMATION
At the dispositional hearing, the judge listens to testimony and reviews agency
reports and recommendations prior to issuing a dispositional order which may
include the following:
• Suspending judgment on specified terms and conditions for up to 1 year
• Releasing the child to the respondent under the supervision of a child
protective agency and on certain conditions for up to 1 year
• Releasing the child to the respondent on the condition that there is no
further abuse or neglect
• Placing the child with a relative or other suitable adult for up to 1 year
• Placing the child in a foster home, group home, or under the care of
another authorized agency
The court may also issue an order of protection, mandatory alcohol or drug
abuse treatment, or mental health services for the respondent. In addition,
referrals for services needed by the child may be ordered.
If the respondent requests an attorney but cannot afford one, the judge will
assign one.
Neglect and Abuse (continued)
N PETITION
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
A family offense petition is filed when a family member claims that another
family member committed one of the following acts against another family
member:
• Disorderly conduct
• Harassment
• Aggravated harassment
• Menacing
• Reckless endangerment
• Assault or attempted assault
• Stalking
For the purpose of filing a family offense petition, “family members” are defined
as individuals related by blood or marriage, individuals who were formerly
married, or individuals who are unrelated but have a child together.
Family Offense
O PETITION
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30 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
FACT-FINDING
HEARING
DISPOSITIONAL
HEARING
On the day a family offense petition is filed, the petitioner has the right to an
immediate court appearance.
If there is “good cause,” the judge may issue a temporary order of protection
and/or a temporary order of child support. The temporary order of protection
lasts until the date the respondent or alleged abuser is scheduled to appear
in court.
The judge will set this return date and issue a summons for the respondent to
appear. If the petitioner is in imminent danger, the judge can issue a warrant
for the respondent to be brought to court.
The respondent may admit or deny the allegations described in the petition or
simply consent to the entry of the order of protection.
If Family Court is not in session, the petitioner may obtain an order of protection
from Criminal Court if the circumstances so warrant.
If the respondent denies the allegations, a fact-finding hearing is held to
determine if the allegations in the petition are true.
If the judge determines that the allegations have been proven, a dispositional
hearing is held. Before this second hearing takes place, the court may adjourn
in order to make inquiries into the surroundings, conditions, and capacities of
the individuals involved.
If the judge determines that the allegations have not been proven, the case is
dismissed.
If the allegations are proven and a dispositional hearing is held, the judge will
issue a dispositional order which may include any of the following:
• Suspending judgment for 6 months
• Placing the respondent on probation for up to 1 year and requiring the
respondent to participate in a batterer’s education program which may
include alcohol and/or drug treatment, and require the respondent to pay
the costs of the program
• Requiring the respondent to pay restitution of up to $10,000
• Making a final order of protection that may be effective for up to 2 years
A final order of protection may include the requirement that the respondent:
• Stay away from the petitioner and any children involved
• Pay reasonable counsel fees of the petitioner
• Participate in a batterer’s education program
Family Offense (continued)
O PETITION
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SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
31
DISPOSITIONAL
HEARING
(continued)
OTHER
INFORMATION
• Pay petitioner’s medical bills for injuries sustained as a result of the abuse
• Stay away from the home, school, or place of employment of the
petitioner and any children involved
• Refrain from committing additional family offenses or acts that endanger
the welfare of other family members
• Be permitted to remove personal property from a shared residence at a
time designated by the court
• Be permitted to visit with any children at court designated times and places
Violations of Protection Orders: If the respondent violates the order of
protection, the petitioner can file a violation petition.
• If the violation is proven, the order of protection can be modified, and the
respondent sentenced for up to 6 months in jail for each act committed in
violation of the order.
• Depending upon the severity of the violation, the case may be transferred
to a criminal court where the respondent may face a substantially longer
jail sentence.
• In addition, the court can revoke or suspend the respondent’s license to
carry a firearm. Moreover, the court can arrange for the surrender and
disposal of any firearm the respondent possesses where there is a risk that
it will be used to harm the petitioner or where the violation of the order
involved violent behavior.
A petitioner has the right to pursue a family offense case in either Criminal
Court or Family Court, or both. In Family Court, the judge can issue an order of
protection, among other remedies, as well as determine temporary custody and
visitation of any children who may be involved. In Criminal Court, the judge
can impose more severe sentences, including jail time. In addition, a family
offense is considered a criminal act in Criminal Court, which means that the
prosecutor can move ahead with a case without the consent or cooperation of
the petitioner or abused individual.
In both courts, respondents have the right to an attorney. Petitioners have the
right to an attorney in Family Court. In Criminal Court, the assistant district
attorney represents the petitioners.
Family Offense (continued)
O PETITION

32 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
PROCEEDINGS
OTHER
INFORMATION
A paternity petition is filed in order to determine whether a man is the legal
father of a child born to parents who were not married to each other when the
child was born.
A petition to establish paternity may be filed by:
• The mother or expectant mother of the child
• An individual claiming to be the child’s father
• The child
• The child’s guardian or next of kin
• A social services agency
The petition can be filed either where the mother or child lives or where the
alleged father does.
After the petition is filed, it must be served along with a summons upon the
respondent.A support magistrate rather than a judge generally hears paternity
cases. Typically, at an initial court appearance, the support magistrate advises
the respondent of certain rights, including the right to counsel and the right to
schedule a blood test in the event that the respondent denies paternity.
If the respondent admits paternity or has previously acknowledged paternity in
writing, the support magistrate will issue an order of filiation. This order
establishes both the child’s right to support and inheritance and the father’s
right to seek custody and visitation of the child.
If paternity is not established, another appearance is scheduled at which the
support magistrate will explain any test results.
• If the results rule out the respondent as the father, the case is dismissed.
• If the test indicates a 95% probability that the respondent is the father, the
respondent is presumed to be the father provided there is no other evidence
disproving paternity.
If the respondent continues to deny paternity or the child’s mother was
married to someone else at the time of conception or birth, the case will be
sent to a judge or support magistrate who must determine the paternity issue
at a hearing where the test results and other evidence are presented.
Once paternity is established and an order of filiation issued, a support hearing
will be held by the support magistrate if the mother wants support from the
father or is receiving public assistance for the child.
In cases where actually appearing in court would be difficult for a party, the court
may allow the party or individual to testify by telephone or other audiovisual
means from a more convenient or easily accessible Family Court or location.
Paternity
P PETITION

SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
33
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
PRELIMINARY
PROCEEDINGS
A person in need of supervision (PINS) is an individual under the age of 18 who:
• Does not attend school
• Behaves in a way that is incorrigible, ungovernable, or habitually
disobedient
• Is beyond the control of a parent, guardian or lawful authority
• Is suspected of drug abuse
• And requires supervision or treatment
The petitioner in a PINS case is usually the parent, guardian, school, or the
presentment agency acting on behalf of the county or city.
Probation Adjustment: Before a PINS petition can be filed, the potential
respondent and a parent or guardian must meet with a probation officer in an
attempt to resolve the case without going to court. This process includes
holding at least one conference with the juvenile and the individual or
organization seeking to file the petition.
• If this process reveals that the juvenile requires treatment or other services,
a referral will be made and a plan developed to assist the juvenile with
accessing and receiving the services needed to amend his or her behavior.
• The adjustment process may last for 90 days and may be extended for an
additional 90 days by a judge.
If adjustment fails, a PINS petition may be filed in court. However, although a
PINS petition is filed, the adjustment process may continue with the juvenile’s
consent. If adjustment is successful, the petition will be dismissed.
Initial Court Appearance: At the initial court appearance, the juvenile, now
officially the respondent, accompanied by a parent or guardian, is informed of
his or her rights, including the right to an attorney. If the parent or a guardian
does not appear, the court can appoint a law guardian and if necessary a
guardian ad litem to represent the respondent.
In rare cases, the respondent is held or remanded to a detention facility
pending a fact-finding hearing in PINS cases.
Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS)
S PETITION
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34 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
FACT-FINDING
HEARING
DISPOSITIONAL
HEARING
At the fact-finding hearing, the judge must decide whether the respondent
committed the alleged acts, behaved in a way that was “incorrigible,
ungovernable, or habitually disobedient,” was out of the control of a parent or
guardian, or is abusing drugs.
• If the judge determines that none of the above conditions have been
satisfied or the allegations have not been proven, the case will be dismissed.
• If the judge determines otherwise, a dispositional hearing will be scheduled.
During or following the fact-finding hearing, the judge may order with the
consent of the parties that the proceedings be adjourned in contemplation of
dismissal (ACD) for 6 months with the goal of ultimate dismissal of the petition.
If the respondent is found to be a person in need of supervision, the judge may
order any of the following:
• Discharge or release of the respondent with a warning
• Adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD)
• Suspension of judgment for up to 1 year
• Placement of the respondent in his or her own home, in the custody of a
suitable relative, or in a group or a foster home for up to 18 months
• Probation for up to 1 year
• The respondent, if over the age of 10, to make restitution through
community service or other means
If the respondent violates the terms of the court order, the supervising probation
officer or agency may file a violation petition with the court.
• A new dispositional hearing may be held and if the violation is proven, the
court may change its original order.
Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) (continued)
S PETITION

SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
35
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
PROCEEDINGS
A U petition is filed in support cases where the petitioner and the respondent
live in different states. This petition enables a petitioner who needs spousal or
child support to seek such support in circumstances where due to financial or
other reasons the petitioner cannot travel to a respondent’s jurisdiction.
U proceedings involve two courts: the initiating court where the petitioner is
located, and the responding court where the respondent is located.
Once the initiating court sends the support petition to the responding court:
• The responding court will order the respondent to appear in the
respondent’s home court, where the petitioner will be represented by a
county attorney or corporation counsel from his or her own county.
• If the respondent does not contest the petition, the support order will be
entered.
• If the respondent does contest the petition, statements given by the
petitioner and other documentary evidence will be exchanged by mail
between the two courts, a process that can prove cumbersome if additional
evidence is required. However, most cases can be handled swiftly without
any additional evidence.
A party may not have to physically travel to New York for the hearing. He or she
may take part in the hearing by telephone if they do not live in New York State.
They may also participate by telephone if they live within New York State, but
in a county, which is far from the courthouse where the hearing is being held.
Under certain circumstances, the petitioner may file a petition forcing the
respondent to travel to New York for the hearing.
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
U PETITION
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
One or both of a child’s parents or another individual may seek to attain legal
responsibility for the care, control and support of a child by filing a petition for
an order of custody.
A non-custodial parent or other relative, such as a grandparent or sibling, who
wants the right to visit with a child, may file a petition for an order of
visitation. A petition can also be filed to change an existing visitation order.
Custody and visitation matters are often heard together although the petitions
may be filed separately.
Custody and Visitation
V PETITION
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36 SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
CUSTODY
PROCEEDINGS
VISITATION
PROCEEDINGS
FURTHER
PROCEEDINGS
OTHER
INFORMATION
A copy of the petition for an order of custody and a summons must be served
upon the individual who has custody of the child.
• If one parent files the petition, the other parent must be served.
• If a non-parent is seeking custody of a child, both parents must be served.
If the parties reach an agreement on their own regarding custody, a full
hearing is not required. Instead, the judge or referee will review the
agreement reached, listen to the testimony of those involved, and issue an
order of custody. However, a full hearing will be held if the parties cannot
reach an agreement about custody.
Prior to this hearing, the judge may appoint a law guardian for the child
and will hear testimony from all involved parties. The judge or referee may
also order an investigation and report from a social services agency or
a mental health professional about the individual parties.After considering
all of the evidence and submitted reports, the judge will decide the custody
issue based on what is in the best interests of the child.
A copy of the petition for an order of visitation and a summons must be served
upon all those who have custody of or visitation privileges with the child.
If the custodial parent does not consent to visitation, the judge or referee will
hold a hearing to determine if visitation is in the best interests of the child.
• If the judge issues an order of visitation, a schedule for visitation will be set.
• An order of supervised visitation requires that all visits take place in the
presence of another adult at a supervising agency.
Either party may petition for changes to a custody or visitation order. The judge
will make a decision about changes to an existing order based on the best
interests of the child.
In addition, if one of the parties violates an existing order, the judge or referee
may alter the order.
In custody cases, the parties have a right to counsel, and the court may appoint
legal representation to parties unable to afford private counsel. In many cases,
the court will appoint a law guardian to represent the interests of the child
involved.
Custody and Visitation (continued)
V PETITION

SECTION 6: FAMILY COURT CASES
37
CIRCUMSTANCES
OF THE CASE
The Family Court has the authority to place an individual who is under the age
of 16 in protective custody when he or she is a material witness in a case.
Material Witness
W PETITION

38 SECTION 7: SPECIALIZED FAMILY COURT PROGRAMS
Since the Family Court was first established, its workload has continued to increase. However,
inadequate funding and resources have impeded its ability to handle the needs of families and
children who come to it, often in crisis. Issues such as juvenile delinquency and domestic violence
have gained greater public attention in recent years. This increased public awareness has resulted
in revisions to the Family Court Act which have allowed the court to more effectively protect
domestic violence victims, enforce child support orders, and improve delinquency proceedings.
The court has adopted several innovative problem-solving approaches to dealing with certain
types of cases. These approaches are discussed in greater detail below.
Courts Within the Family Court
Family Treatment Court
In the mid-1990’s, 75% of child abuse and neglect cases involved parents who used drugs.3
Noncompliance with court-ordered drug treatment programs for these parents resulted in
children remaining in foster care for an average of four years. Family Treatment Court was
consequently established to provide a more effective and efficient resolution for these cases.
The Family Treatment Court was established with the ultimate goal of reuniting children with
their drug-free parents, ideally within one year. Attorneys for the children and parents,
representatives of social services agencies, and caseworkers all work together with a resource
coordinator and the Family Treatment Court judge to achieve the best possible resolution for the
child involved.
In the Family Treatment Court only abuse and neglect cases are heard. Parents who wish to
participate in the lives of their children must not only admit abuse and neglect but also
7Section
Specialized
Family Court
Programs
3Judge Judith S. Kaye, Changing Courts in Changing Times: The Need for a Fresh Look at How Our Courts Are Run,
Tobriner Lecture, Hastings Law School (November 3, 1997).

immediately enter a drug treatment program, make frequent court appearances, that include
mandatory drug screening, and attend parenting classes and support workshops. Visitation with
their children continues throughout this process to provide the children with as much continuity
as possible.
Integrated Domestic Violence Court (IDV)
The Integrated Domestic Violence Court is based on the one-family-one-judge model. In New
York State, domestic violence cases may be heard in the Family, Criminal, and Supreme courts,
depending on the circumstances of the case. This can result in conflicting orders and decisions and
unduly burden the litigants. To address these problems, the IDV court merges the proceedings
allowing a single judge, who is informed of every aspect of the case, to hear the case which
allows the judge to order integrated comprehensive social services. The overall goals of the IDV
court are improving court efficiency, allowing for more informed judicial decision-making,
promoting greater victim safety, eliminating conflicting orders, and improving service delivery
to domestic violence victims and their children.
Youth Court
Low-level youthful offenders may be diverted from the formal juvenile justice system into a
community-based Youth Court. In Youth Court, the adolescent alleged to have committed a non-
violent offense (alcohol or drug use, vandalism, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, assault,
traffic offenses, truancy, trespassing, or school violations) must first admit responsibility for the
offense to the police, a probation officer, or a Family Court judge. The adolescent then appears
with parental consent for a sentencing hearing before a court of his or her peers. These “peers,”
who assume the roles of judge, prosecutor, public defender, clerk, and jury, are other teenagers
who have completed a special training program to do so. After the evidence is presented and
evaluated, a rehabilitative sentence is imposed on the teenager that can include community
service, victim restitution, and future service in the Youth Court.
Mediation in the Family Court
Throughout New York State, mediation is being integrated into the Family Court process. In custody
and visitation matters, where there is no issue of domestic violence, parties may be referred to
mediation provided by non-profit agencies that work closely with the court. The state-certified, neutral
mediators assist parties in drafting their own agreements, which if approved by a judge or referee, can
become an order of the court. Mediators from these non-profit agencies also provide mediation
service, sometimes before the filing of a petition, for PINS and some juvenile delinquency cases.
The Child Permanency Mediation Program is a court-based program, currently operating in
several counties of New York State, which offers an opportunity for the adult parties, caregivers,
caseworkers and attorneys who are involved in the life of a child in foster care to come together
in a non-adversarial setting. It also provides the children, when appropriate, with a safe place to
participate in the permanency plans that will affect them. The program is staffed by full-time,
state certified mediators with backgrounds in the area of child welfare. In these mediations, the
parties work together to identify and to remove the barriers that are preventing permanency
from being achieved for these children.
Unified Family-Matrimonial Divisions
In several counties, as part of a pilot program, Family Court judges are designated Acting Supreme
SECTION 7: SPECIALIZED FAMILY COURT PROGRAMS
39

Court justices in order to hear matrimonial or divorce cases. Therefore, these judges are able to
hear divorce proceedings, which fall solely under the sole jurisdiction of the Supreme Court,
combined with custody, visitation, child support and other issues that must be handled in the
Family Court. This allows families to have their cases heard by one judge in one court rather than
divide their time, energy and resources between multiple courts and judges.
40 SECTION 7: SPECIALIZED FAMILY COURT PROGRAMS

SECTION 8: APPEALING FAMILY COURT DECISIONS
41
Filing an Appeal
A party that is not satisfied with the final order of a court has the right to appeal the decision
and have the case heard by a higher court. In New York State, the Appellate Division of the
Supreme Court handles Family Court appeals. The lawyers of both parties involved in the case
should inform their clients of their right to an appeal, and are obligated to do so in juvenile
delinquency, PINS, and neglect and abuse cases.
The attorney for the party that exercises this right must file the appeal within a specified time
frame. In addition, although parties may be present at appellate arguments, they do not testify
during the appeals process.
Appealing Support Decisions
Both parties in a support case have the right to appeal the decision of the support magistrate by
filing an objection within 30 days. However, before an appeal can be made to the Appellate
Division, a Family Court judge must review the decision. The party that opposes the objection has
the right to send a reply to this judge, who in turn may sustain the order, change it, or have it
sent back to the support magistrate for further hearings. Only after a Family Court judge has
reviewed the case can either party properly appeal the decision to the Appellate Division.
Filing a Complaint Against a Judge or Attorney
Judicial Conduct Commission
Complaints against judges or local justices may be filed with the New York State Commission on
Judicial Conduct. After investigating a complaint, the Commission can admonish, censure, or
remove a judge from the bench. Generally, these complaints include possible conflicts of interest,
violations of a party’s rights, intoxication, bias, prejudice, favoritism, gross neglect of duty,
corruption, prohibited political activity, and other misconduct on or off the bench. In addition,
8Section
Appealing
Family Court
Decisions

42 SECTION 8: APPEALING FAMILY COURT DECISIONS
the Commission has the authority to retire judges who have mental or physical disabilities that
prevent them from properly performing their duties.
Attorney Disciplinary and Grievance Committees
The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court appoints disciplinary and grievance
committees to hear complaints of attorney misconduct. In addition to a full-time professional
staff, each committee is comprised of both attorneys and non-attorneys. Generally, complaints
are filed with the committee serving in the judicial district where the attorney works. After
investigating the complaint, the committee can refer it to the local bar association which may
reprimand, suspend, or disbar attorneys found to have violated disciplinary rules, ethical codes, or
committed malpractice. In addition, clients may sue their attorneys for malpractice.

GLOSSARY
43
Adjournment: A recess or postponement of a case
to a later date.
Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD):
A postponement of a case that may result in the
dismissal of the case if the respondent complies with
conditions established by the court for a set period
of time. Juvenile delinquency and PINS proceedings
may be postponed for up to 6 months, and in child
protective proceedings, the postponement can be
up to 12 months.
Adjudicate: The legal process of resolving a dispute.
Adjudicator: An individual responsible for
overseeing and deciding legal matters in a case.
Commonly referred to as the judge.
Adjustment: A procedure, undertaken by the
Probation Department, to resolve a dispute
voluntarily and informally without a petition being
heard by the court. Adjustment may be used in PINS
and juvenile delinquency cases.
Admission: An assertion or acknowledgment that
the fact or facts at issue are true. When made under
oath such an assertion is legally binding.
Administration for Children’s Services (ACS): A New
York City agency devoted to safeguarding the
welfare of children and providing services to
children and families in need.
Adoption: The granting of permanent legal rights
and responsibilities for a child to an individual other
than the child’s natural parents.
Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA): A federal
law, enacted in 1997, that mandates that a child in
foster care for 15 or more of the past 22 months be
safely returned home or moved forward in the
adoption process. The legislation is intended to
shorten the time that children spend in foster care
and encourage their permanent placement in a
secure home environment.
Agency Adoption: An adoption that takes place
through a social services or foster care agency that
has custody of the child. In order for an agency to
proceed with an adoption, parental rights must be
terminated.
Allegation: An unproven fact declared or asserted
by a party in a legal proceeding.
Alternative Dispute Resolution: A procedure for
settling a dispute by means other than litigation,
such as arbitration, mediation, or mini-trial.
Glossary

44 GLOSSARY
Appeal: The submission of a lower court’s decision
to a higher court for review and possible reversal.
Appearance Ticket: A notice requiring a party or an
interested person to show up in court on a specified
date.
Appellate: Refers to, or related to, an appeal (i.e.
appellate court).
Appellate Argument: Occurs when a lower court’s
decision is submitted to a higher court for review.
The attorneys on either side present oral arguments
before the judges reviewing the decision.
Arbitration: A method of dispute resolution
involving one or more neutral third parties who are
usually chosen by the disputing parties and whose
decision is legally binding.
Arrear: An unpaid or overdue debt.
Arrest: The taking of a juvenile into custody by a
police officer in circumstances in which there would
have been probable cause to arrest an adult for the
commission of a misdemeanor, or the taking into
custody of a juvenile who fails to appear in court
following the filing of a PINS or delinquency
petition pursuant to a warrant issued by a Family
Court judge. The Family Court Act refers to these
procedures relating to juveniles as custody and
detention, rather than “arrest.”
Assigned Counsel: An attorney assigned by a judge
to represent an adult party, who cannot afford one.
Also referred to as l8 (b) or panel attorneys, they
are generally chosen from a list of lawyers
previously approved by the Appellate Division of the
Supreme Court.
Assistant County Attorney/Assistant Corporation
Counsel: A lawyer who represents the county, city,
or, in some cases, the Department of Social Services,
in the prosecution of juvenile delinquency cases and
filing of petitions in child abuse and neglect, foster
care, termination of parental rights, and persons in
need of supervision (PINS) cases.
Assistant District Attorney (ADA): A lawyer from
the county’s district attorney’s office who prosecutes
certain child abuse and neglect cases and juvenile
delinquency cases involving serious crimes.
Attorney Disciplinary and Grievance Committees: A
group of lawyer and non-lawyers who hear
complaints of attorney misconduct or wrongdoing.
Caseworker/Child Protective Worker: A staff
member of a county or city child protective or social
services agency who investigate charges of abuse
and neglect, files petitions, testifies at hearings,
assists the family and children in obtaining services,
and makes recommendations about what should be
done for the child involved.
Child Abuse: A parent or guardian of a child
physically, sexually, mentally, or emotionally injures
the child.
Child Neglect: A parent or guardian of a child has
harmed the child, failed to properly care for the
child by providing inadequate education or medical
care, or abandoned the child.
Civil Claim/Case: A non-criminal legal action. An
individual or organization initiates an action against
another individual or organization who has violated
their private or civil right. Family Court cases are
considered civil cases.
Commercial Claim: A legal action brought by an
organization or individual seeking damages for
injury to their business or profession caused by
another individual or organization.
Community Service: An order by the court directing
the defendant to work without compensation, for a
community or neighborhood for a specified period
of time, in place of imprisonment or fines.
Conditional Discharge: A release from confinement
or an obligation if certain requirements are met.
Conduct: Personal behavior, whether by action or
inaction.

GLOSSARY
45
Conflict of Interest: An incompatibility between
one’s private interests and one’s duty. If the conflict
is between a lawyer’s interests and his or her duty
to his client’s interests, the conflict will disqualify
the lawyer from representing his or her client.
Consent: A competent person voluntarily agrees,
approves, or permits some action.
Counsel: One or more lawyers who represent a client.
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA): An
individual appointed by a judge to investigate,
monitor, and report to the Family Court on foster
care placement cases.
Court Attorney: A lawyer, employed by the court,
who assists the judge with legal research, drafting
decisions, and reviewing orders.
Court Clerk/Court Assistant: A court employee who
supervises non-judicial personnel, prepares court
orders for signature, schedules cases, and ensures
the availability of interpreters.
Court Referee: An attorney who is assigned to hear,
decide and issue orders in permanency hearings,
termination hearings, and cases involving such issues
as custody, visitation and the extension of foster
care placement.
Court Officer/Deputy Sheriff: A uniformed guard
who maintains order in the courtroom and public
areas of the courthouse. Court officers are assigned
to every courtroom and may call parties into the
hearing, administer oaths, and bring respondents to
the courtroom from detention facilities in the
building.
Criminal Case: An action, which can only be
initiated by the government or state, brought
against an individual who has committed a crime.
Fines, jail time, and other conditions can be imposed
upon the defendant if he or she is found guilty.
Custodial Parent: A parent who has legal or physical
custody of a child. If a parent has legal custody,
then that parent is involved in all of the decisions
pertaining to raising the child. If the parent has
physical custody, the parent the child resides most
of the time.
Custody and Detention: The Family Court Act refers
to procedures for detaining juveniles as “custody
and detention” rather than “arrest.” A juvenile may
be taken into custody by a police officer without a
warrant in circumstances in which there would have
been probable cause to arrest an adult for the
commission of a misdemeanor or felony. After the
juvenile is taken into custody, he or she may be
detained or held in an appropriate facility for a
limited period of time, or may be brought into the
Family Court if his or her parent cannot be
contacted, or in other limited circumstances.
Designated Felony Act: An act committed by a
person age 13, 14, or 15, which if committed by an
adult, would constitute one of the following crimes:
murder, kidnapping, arson, assault, manslaughter,
rape, sodomy, or robbery.
Detention Facility: A facility designed to retain
individuals who have been ordered to remain in the
state’s custody for a specified period of time.
Diagnostic Assessment: An evaluation ordered by
the court after it is determined that a juvenile has
committed a designated felony act. The diagnostic
assessment includes psychological tests and
psychiatric interviews to determine mental capacity
and achievement, emotional stability, and mental
disabilities. It may also include a clinical assessment
of the situational factors of the juvenile’s life that
may have contributed to her commission of the act
or acts. The assessment may also require an expert
to determine if the juvenile poses a risk to herself or
to others and the feasibility of restrictive placement.
The diagnostic assessment often is ordered in
conjunction with a probation investigation to help
the judge determine the conditions of the
dispositional order.
Disbar: The action of expelling a lawyer from the bar
or from practicing law due to a disciplinary violation.

46 GLOSSARY
Dismissal: The termination or ending of an action or
claim without further hearing.
Dispositional Hearing: A hearing that takes place
after the fact-finding hearing where the judge
determines the most appropriate resolution of a
case based on the evidence presented.
Dispositional Order: The final order entered by the
court following a dispositional hearing.
Division for Youth: A state agency that maintains
secure and non-secure detention facilities for the
placement of juveniles. It also oversees the
certification and operation of certain juvenile
detention facilities.
Emancipate: The release of a child from the control,
support, and responsibility of a parent or guardian.
Emancipated Minor: A person who has not reached
full legal age who is self-supporting and
independent of parental control, usually as a result
of a court order.
Evidence: Something (including testimony,
documents and tangible objects) that tends to prove
or disprove the existence of an alleged fact.
Fact-Finding Hearing: A hearing to determine
whether the allegations of the petition have been
proven. A trial in Family Court is known as the fact-
finding hearing.
Family Court Act of 1962: The state statute that sets
forth the jurisdiction, powers and proceedings of
the Family Court.
Family Court Appearance Ticket: A notice directing
a party to appear in Family Court on a specified
date. The appearance ticket is given to someone
who has been arrested, but rather than being
detained, is released.
Family Members: Individuals related by blood or
marriage, who were formerly married, or who are
unrelated but have a child together.
Family Offense: One of the following acts if
committed by a family member: disorderly conduct;
harassment; aggravated harassment; menacing;
reckless endangerment; assault or attempted
assault; or stalking.
Family Treatment Court: A specialized court that
hears child neglect and abuse cases involving
parents with substance abuse problems. The court
strives to reunite families, move children out of
foster care, and provide treatment to substance
abusing parents. See Section 6 of this guide for
more information.
Felony: A criminal act punishable by imprisonment
for more than one year.
Foster Care: The placement of a child in the care
and custody of an authorized child-care agency for
either short-term or long-term care. This care is
often with a “foster family,” who may be related to
the child. The agency has physical custody of the
child, but the parent continues to have legal rights
in regards to the child.
Foster Care Review: A hearing involving the
permanency plan for a child in foster care.
Good Cause: A legally sufficient reason.
Group Home: The placement of a child in foster care
in a facility with other children in foster care until a
“foster family” can be assigned.
Guardian Ad Litem: An individual, usually an
attorney, appointed by the court to represent an
infant, an adult who is mentally or physically unable
to speak for themselves, or to stand in place of a
parent who is unable to appear in court.
Guardian: A person who is legally responsible for
the care and management of the person or property
of an incompetent or a minor.
Hearing: An examination of evidence for the
purpose of determining an issue of fact and
reaching a decision based on that evidence.

GLOSSARY
47
Income Deduction Order: A support magistrate or a
judge reduces the income of the respondent by the
amount of the debt owed to the petitioner upon
proof of the violation of a support order.
Intake Hearing or “1027”/ “1028”: A hearing when a
child is removed from his or her home without a
court order is known as a “1027.” This hearing must
be held as soon as possible to determine if the child
should be remanded to a place designated by the
court, placed in the custody of someone other than
the respondent parent or guardian, or released to
the respondent pending the final order. The parent
or guardian can move to have the child released to
her pending the final outcome of the case in a
hearing known as a “1028.”
Integrated Domestic Violence Court (IDV): A
specialized court that hears all aspects of domestic
violence cases based on a one-family-one judge
model. See Section 6 of this guide for more
information.
Interpreter: A person who orally translates for
non-English speaking and hearing impaired litigants
in court.
Investigation and Report (I&R): In juvenile delinquency
and PINS cases, a report prepared by the Probation
Department, by order of a Family Court judge,
describing a respondent's past behavior, educational
background and family circumstances, and an
assessment of the likelihood of respondent's
rehabilitation and/or successful functioning if she
remains in the community or is placed away from
the home. This report is used by the judge in
deciding what kind of dispositional order to issue.
An investigation and report may also be ordered by
the court in custody and visitation, child protective,
family offense and termination of parental rights
proceedings. In the latter cases, however, other
agencies, including the Department of Social Services,
may be directed by the court to perform this function.
Judge: The individual who is in charge of the
courtroom who listens to witnesses, examines
evidence, and decide any legal questions that arise
during the proceedings. Following the presentation
of all evidence, he or she determines the outcome
of the case and issues any necessary orders.
Judicial Conduct Commission: An agency charged
with reviewing complaints against judges or local
justices. Generally, the complaints which the
commission reviews include possible conflicts of
interest, violations of a party’s rights, intoxication,
bias, prejudice, favoritism, gross neglect of duty,
corruption, prohibited political activity, and other
misconduct on or off the bench.
Judicial Department: The Appellate Division of the
Supreme Court is divided into 4 judicial departments,
each consisting of 4 or 5 judges. Each department has
jurisdiction over a different part of New York State.
Judicial Hearing Officer (JHO): A former or retired
judge, appointed by the Chief Administrative Judge
for a one year term, assigned to hear contested
paternity proceedings, custody and visitation
proceedings and family offenses matters in the Family
Court. In New York City, JHOs may also be assigned
adoptions, permanency hearings, and foster care
review cases. Generally, judicial hearing officers hear
cases and report their recommendations to a Family
Court judge who determines the outcome of the cases.
Jurisdiction: A geographic area established by
statute within which a court may exercise authority.
Juvenile: An individual who has not yet reached the
age at which one should be treated as an adult by
the criminal justice system.
Juvenile Delinquent: A person at least age 7 years
of age but under age 16 who commits an act that, if
committed by an adult, would constitute a crime.
Juvenile Offender: A person aged 13, 14, or 15 who
commits certain designated felony acts that are
adjudicated in a criminal court.
Law Guardian: A lawyer assigned by a judge to
represent the child involved in a Family Court
proceeding.

48 GLOSSARY
Malpractice: A professional, such as a lawyer or
doctor, who is negligent or incompetent in their
duties owed to the client or patient
Matrimonial: Having to do with marriage.
Mediation: A method of dispute resolution involving
a neutral third party who tries to help the disputing
parties reach a mutually agreeable solution.
Merit Selection: An appointive process for selecting
judges for the New York State Court of Appeals,
and the Criminal and Family Courts of New York
City. Candidates are chosen through a nonpartisan
nominating commission or committee and then
appointed by the chief executive.
Misdemeanor: An offense punishable by a fine or
imprisonment of 15 days or more up to one year.
New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and
Maltreatment (SCR): A state listing of reported child
abuse and maltreatment. If a finding of neglect or
abuse is substantiated against a parent, a report of
the neglect or abuse remains on file at SCR until the
child is 28 years old. SCR is part of the New York
State Office of Children and Family Services.
Nominating Convention: A meeting held to propose
a person or persons for election or appointment to
a position.
Non-Custodial Parent: A parent who the child does
not reside with but who maintains parental rights.
Non Secure Detention Facility: A facility for
detained children characterized by the absence of
locks, guards and similar security measures.
Office of Court Administration (OCA): The
administrative branch of the New York State court
system. OCA is overseen by the Chief Judge of the
Court of Appeals, and supervises the standards,
administrative policies, and operations of the trial
courts throughout the state.
Open Adoption Process: An adoption in which both
the adoptive and the natural parents agree to share
identifying and non-identifying information
including last names, addresses, and phone numbers
and communication between both sets of parents
may be open.
Order: A written direction or command delivered by
the court or a judge.
Order of Custody: An order determining who the
custodial parent of the child will be and the
conditions of custody.
Order of Filiation: An order establishing the
paternity of a child or unborn child generally issued
by a support magistrate. This order establishes the
child’s legal right to support and inheritance from
the biological father, as well as the father’s right to
seek custody and visitation.
Order of Protection: An order issued by a judge
directing that a parent, spouse or ex-spouse, member
of petitioner's family or household, or person with
whom petitioner has a child in common, refrain from
committing acts which are defined as family offenses.
These include harassment; disorderly conduct;
menacing; reckless endangerment; and assault. An
order of protection may also direct the respondent to
stay away from the home, school, or place of
employment of designated persons; refrain from acts
or omissions that create an unreasonable risk to the
health, safety, or welfare of the child; and may
include a number of other provisions set forth in the
Family Court Act. An order of protection may be
entered as an order of disposition in a family offense
proceeding, and may also be entered in connection
with child protective, delinquency, PINS, paternity,
support, and custody and visitation proceedings.
Order of Sequestration: An order allowing property
to be removed from the possessor of the property
pending the outcome of the case. The property may
be sold in order to pay the debt owed.
Order of Support: An order entered by a support
magistrate or judge, directing that a specified amount
be paid to the petitioner for the care of a child.

GLOSSARY
49
Order of Visitation: An order issued by a judge,
determining the conditions of visitation of non-
custodial parents or relatives.
Panel Attorney: See ASSIGNED COUNSEL
Parole: The supervised release of a juvenile pending
a dispositional hearing in a juvenile delinquency
case.
Paternity: The state or condition of being a father.
Penal Code: The New York State law that defines
crimes and the scope of punishment.
Permanency Hearing: A proceeding, held no more
than 12 months after the child has been placed in
foster care, to reach a decision regarding the
permanent placement of the child.
Permanency Plan: A plan developed for a child
placed in foster care to determine where the child
will be permanently situated. There are five possible
solutions: Return of the child to the parent; Adoption,
if parental rights are terminated or voluntarily
surrendered; Referral for legal guardianship;
Permanent placement with a fit and willing relative,
and; Placement in another planned permanent
living arrangement, such as independent living.
Person In Need of Supervision (PINS): A person
under age 18 who does not attend school, or who is
incorrigible, ungovernable, habitually disobedient
and beyond the lawful control of a parent or other
lawful authority, or who unlawfully possesses
marijuana (25 grams or less), and who is in need of
supervision.
Petition: The written document that forms the basis
for a Family Court proceeding.
Petition Clerk: The court employee who schedules
and prepares petitions is known as the petition
clerk. In Family Court, petition clerks may prepare
petitions in custody, visitation, family offense,
paternity, guardianship, and support cases.
Petitioner: The person or agency that initiates a case
by filing a petition. Known as the “plaintiff” in
other courts.
Presentment Agency: The office that acts on behalf
of the county, or the City of New York in Family
Court when prosecuting juvenile delinquency cases.
In New York City, the presentment agency is
generally the Corporation Counsel's office; in most
counties, it is the County Attorney's office. The
district attorney may act as the presentment agency
for designated felony petitions in Family Court. In
addition, a district attorney may elect to present the
petition when a criminal case has been removed for
fact-finding hearing to Family Court.
Private Placement Adoption: An adoption in which
the child’s natural parents and the potential
adoptive parents reach an agreement without the
aid of a social service or adoption agency. Potential
adoptive parents must be pre-certified to have
temporary custody of the child while the court
makes a final decision.
Probable Cause Hearing: A hearing to determine
whether there is good cause to hold the child in
detention pending a fact-finding hearing in a
juvenile delinquency case.
Probation: A disposition ordered by a judge in
which the defendant is not held in custody, but is
released under supervision for a certain period of
time during which he or she must fulfill certain
conditions.
Probation Adjustment: A process, which occurs
before a PINS petition is filed, in which the potential
respondent and a parent or guardian must meet
with a probation officer in an attempt to resolve
the case without going to court. This process
includes holding at least one conference with the
juvenile and the individual or organization seeking
to file the petition.
Probation Intake: A division of the Department of
Probation which is authorized in certain cases to
interview complainants and potential respondents

50 GLOSSARY
before a petition is filed, and to determine whether
a matter can be resolved voluntarily, without
referral to the court. This out of court resolution is
known as "adjustment." The probation department
cannot compel anyone to appear in court, nor deny
anyone access to court.
Probation Investigation: An examination ordered if
the court has determined that a juvenile offender
has committed a designated felony act. The
probation investigation includes inquiries into the
juvenile’s history including previous conduct, family
situation, previous psychological or psychiatric
assessments, school adjustment, and the response of
the juvenile to previous social assistance. The
probation investigation is ordered in conjunction
with a diagnostic assessment and both are used to
help the judge determine the conditions of the
dispositional order.
Probation Officer: An officer of the county’s
Department of Probation who is responsible for
investigating and preparing reports for the judge or
support magistrate about the individuals involved in
a particular case.
Relief: The reparation or benefit a party asks for
from the opposing party in a court action.
Remand: An order by the judge that a child be kept
at a detention facility while awaiting a hearing in a
delinquency or PINS case, or that a child be kept in
temporary foster care in a child protective
proceeding or PINS case.
Removal: A transfer of a juvenile offender case from
Criminal Court to Family Court.
Residential Facility: A facility authorized by the
county’s social services agency to care for children in
foster care or who have been otherwise detained.
Respondent: The person or agency against whom a
petition is filed, and who responds to the petition.
The respondent is known as the defendant in other
types of courts.
Restitution: Money or other compensation paid for
a loss or injury incurred.
Restrictive Placement: The placement in a secure
facility, for a specified length of time, of a youth
found to have committed a designated felony act.
Secure Detention Facility: A locked, guarded
residential facility.
Serve: The delivery of a legal notice to an
individual. Such notice may include a summons or
warrant requiring the individual to appear in court.
Stand-by Guardian: An individual who agrees to act
as a guardian for a child in cases where the parent
of the child is suffering from a chronic or potentially
fatal illness or is otherwise unable to care for the
child.
Summons: A court order requiring an individual’s
appearance in court.
Supervised Visitation: A visitation with a child by a
non-custodial parent or relative that takes place in
the presence of another adult or court-appointed
supervisor.
Support Collection Unit (SCU): A unit of the
Department of Social Services that collects, accounts
for and disburses support payments made pursuant
to court orders. SCU may also enforce support
orders in certain cases by filing violation petitions
on behalf of the person entitled to receive support
payments, issue income deduction orders, and
conduct the review and adjustment of child support
orders periodically in cases in which a child receives
public assistance.
Support Magistrate: An attorney appointed by the
chief administrative judge to hear cases involving
child support and paternity matters.
Surrender: A voluntary agreement to terminate the
parental rights of a natural parent. Surrender has
the same legal effect as a termination of parental
rights, and must be approved by a judge. However,

GLOSSARY
51
the advantage of surrender is that the parent may
stipulate conditions within the adoption contract,
such as requesting that a particular person adopt
the child, or maintaining contact with the child
through an open adoption process.
Surrogate: A substitute. A person appointed to act
in the place of another.
Suspension of Judgment: The act of temporarily
delaying, interrupting, or terminating the decision
until further facts and circumstances are assessed on
a later date.
Sustain: To support or maintain an order or decision
of the court.
Termination of Parental Rights: The permanent end
of the legal rights of the natural parents of a child,
thereby “freeing” the child for adoption.
Testimony: Evidence that a competent witness
under oath gives at trial or in an affidavit or
deposition.
Transcript: A handwritten, printed or typed copy of
testimony given orally.
Uncontested: Unopposed. When there is no
objection to the issue or fact presented.
Undertaking: A promise, pledge, or engagement.
Voluntary Placement Agreement: A document
signed by a parent or guardian who is unable to
care for a child, allowing that child to be placed in
temporary foster care through a social services
agency.
Warrant: A court order requiring the arrest of an
individual. The Family Court has the power to issue
warrants for the arrest of adult respondents in a
variety of circumstances despite the fact that the
Family Court handles only civil, not criminal
proceedings. For example, an arrest warrant may be
issued, in any proceeding where a summons served
on the respondent would be ineffective, or in
emergencies involving children in a respondent’s
care. In addition, an adult may be arrested without
a warrant for the violation of a temporary or final
order of protection.
Witness: A person who gives testimony under oath
to something they have seen, heard, or know to be
true.
Youth Court: A specialized court, staffed by trained
young people, which hear cases involving low-level
offenses committed by juveniles. See Section 6 of
this guide for more information.
Youthful Offender: A person charged with a crime
alleged to have been committed when he or she
was at least 14 years old and less than 19 years old.
The youthful offender has already been tried or
pled guilty in Criminal Court and is afforded, in the
interest of justice, special treatment by a Criminal
Court judge to remove the stigma that often
accompanies a felony conviction. “Y.O.”
adjudication is not a conviction and does not
disqualify a person from public employment or
licensing. The youth’s records are sealed, and the
youth is sent to a special correctional facility if a
sentence of incarceration is imposed.
18(b) Attorney: See ASSIGNED COUNSEL
358(a) Hearing: A hearing during which a Family
Court judge reviews the parents’ voluntary
placement agreement to determine if the
placement of a child in foster care was voluntary
and necessary. The judge will approve the
placement under certain conditions and may make a
determination about whether the child has been
properly placed, as well as the length of time of the
placement.
1027 Hearing: See INTAKE HEARING
1028 Hearing: See INTAKE HEARING

52 FAMILY COURT DIRECTORY
Albany County Family Court
30 Clinton Avenue
Albany NY 12207
(518) 427-3500
Allegany County Family Court
7 Court Street
Belmont NY 14813
(585) 268-5816
Broome County Family Court
65 Hawley Street
Binghamton NY 13901
(607) 778-2156
Cattaraugus County Family
Court
1 Leo Moss drive
Olean NY 14760
(716) 373-8035
Cayuga County Family Court
157 Genesee Street
Auburn NY 13021
(315) 255-4306
Chautauqua County Family
Court
3 North Erie Street
Mayville NY 14757
(716) 753-4351
Chemung County Family
Court
203-209 William Street
Elmira NY 14902
(607) 737-2902
Chenango County Family
Court
5 Court Street
Norwich NY 13815
(607) 337-1824
Clinton County Family Court
137 Margaret Street
Plattsburgh NY 12901
(518) 565-4658
Columbia County Family Court
401 Union Street
Hudson NY 12534
(518) 565-0315
Cortland County Family Court
46 Greenbush Street
Cortland NY 13045
(607) 753-5353
Delaware County Family
Court
3 Court Street
Delhi NY 13753
(607) 746-2298
Dutchess County Family Court
50 Market Street
Poughkeepsie NY 12601
(845) 486-2500
Erie County Family Court
One Niagara Plaza
Buffalo NY 14202
(716) 845-7400
Essex County Family Court
7559 Court Street
Elizabethtown NY 12932
(518) 873-3320
Family Court Directory

FAMILY COURT DIRECTORY
53
Franklin County Family Court
355 West Main Street
Malone NY 12953
(518) 481-1742
Fulton County Family Court
11 North William Street
Johnstown NY 12095
(518) 762-3840
Genesee County Family Court
1 West Main Street
Batavia NY 14020
(585) 344-2550 Ext. 2228
Greene County Family Court
320 Main Street
Catskill NY 12414
(518) 943-5711
Hamilton County Family Court
179 White Birch Lane
Indian Lake NY 12842
(518) 648-5411
Herkimer County Family Court
109-111 Mary Street
Herkimer NY 13350
(315) 867-1139
Jefferson County Family Court
175 Arsenal Street
Watertown NY 13601
(315) 785-3001
Lewis County Family Court
7660 N State Street
Lowville NY 13367
(315) 376-5345
Livingston County Family
Court
2 Court Street
Geneseo NY 14454
(585) 243-7070
Madison County Family Court
North Court Street
Wampsville NY 13163
(315) 366-2291
Monroe County Family Court
99 Exchange Blvd.
Rochester NY 14614
(585) 428-5429
Montgomery County Family
Court
58 Broadway
Fonda NY 12068
(518) 853-8133
Nassau County Family Court
1200 Old Country Road
Westbury NY 11590
(516) 571-9033
Niagara County Family Court
175 Hawley Street
Lockport NY 14094
(716) 439-7172
Niagara County Family Court
775 3rd Street
Niagara Falls NY 14302
(716) 278-1880
Oneida County Family Court
200 Elizabeth Street
Utica NY 13501
(315) 798-5925
Oneida County Family Court
301 West Dominick Street
Rome NY 13440
(315) 337-7492
Onondaga County Family
Court
401 Montgomery Street
Syracuse NY 13202
(315) 671-2000
Ontario County Family Court
27 North Main Street
Canandaigua NY 14424
(585) 396-4272
Orange County Family Court
285 Main Street
Goshen NY 10924
(845) 291-3030
Orleans County Family Court
3 North Main Street
Albion NY 14411
(585) 589-4457
Oswego County Family Court
39 Churchill Road
Oswego NY 13126
(315) 349-3350
Otsego County Family Court
197 Main Street
Cooperstown NY 13326
(607) 547-4264
Putnam County Family Court
40 Gleneida Avenue
Carmel NY 10512
(845) 225-3641
Rensselaer County Family
Court
1504 Fifth Avenue
Troy NY 12180
(518) 270-3761
Rockland County Family Court
1 South Main Street
New City NY 10956
(845) 638-5300
St. Lawrence County Family
Court
48 Court Street
Canton NY 13617
(315) 379-2410

54 FAMILY COURT DIRECTORY
Saratoga County Family Court
35 West High Street
Ballston Spa NY 12020
(518) 884-9207
Schenectady County Family
Court
620 State Street
Schenectady NY 12305
(518) 388-4305
Schoharie County Family
Court
290 Main Street
Schoharie NY 12157
(518) 295-8383
Schuyler County Family Court
105 9th Street
Watkins Glen NY 14891
(607) 535-7143
Seneca County Family Court
48 West Williams Street
Waterloo NY 13165
(315) 539-4917
Steuben County Family Court
3 East Pulteney Square
Bath NY 14810
(607) 664-2130
Suffolk County Family Court
400 Carleton Avenue
Central Islip NY 11722
(631) 853-4648
Sullivan County Family Court
100 North Street
Monticello NY 12701
(845) 794-3000
Tioga County Family Court
20 Court Street
Owego NY 13827
(607) 687-1730
Tompkins County Family Court
320 North Tioga Street
Ithaca NY 14851
(607) 277-1517
Ulster County Family Court
16 Lucas Avenue
Kingston NY 12401
(845) 340-3600
Warren County Family Court
1340 State Route 9
Lake George NY 12845
(518) 761-6500
Washington County Family
Court
383 Broadway
Fort Edward NY 12828
(518) 746-2501
Wayne County Family Court
54 Broad Street
Lyons NY 14489
(315) 946-5420
Westchester County Family
Court
420 North Avenue
New Rochelle NY 10801
(914) 813-5650
Westchester County Family
Court
111 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Blvd.
White Plains NY 10601
(914) 995-3600
Westchester County Family
Court
53 South Broadway
Yonkers NY 10701
(914) 231-2950
Wyoming County Family
Court
147 North Main Street
Warsaw NY 14569
(585) 786-3148
Yates County Family Court
415 Liberty Street
Penn Yan NY 14527
(315) 536-5127
New York City Family Courts
Bronx County Family Court
900 Sheridan Avenue
Bronx NY 10451
(718) 590-3377
Kings County (Brooklyn)
Family Court
283 Adams Street
Brooklyn NY 11201
(718) 643-2825
New York County
(Manhattan)
Family Court
60 Lafayette Street
New York NY 10013
(646) 386-5103,04
Queens County Family Court
151-20 Jamaica Avenue
Jamaica NY 11432
(718) 298-0204
Richmond County (Staten
Island) Family Court
100 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island NY 10301
(718) 390-5462

REFERENCES
55
David Anderson (1999), Kids, Courts, and Communities: Lessons from the Red Hook Youth Court,
Center for Court Innovation.
Greg Berman and John Feinblatt (2001), Problem-solving Courts: A Brief Primer, Center for Court
Innovation.
John Feinblatt and Michele Sviridoff (1998), Neighborhood Justice: Lessons from the Midtown
Community Court, Center for Court Innovation.
Judge Jonathan Lippman and Judge Ann Pfau, Structure of the Courts, Office of Court
Administration
New York City Administration for Children’s Services, Parent Handbook: A Guide for Parents with
Children in Foster Care.
New York State Assembly, http://assembly.state.ny.us
New York State Bar Association (2001), The Courts of New York: A Guide to Court Procedures, with
a Glossary of Legal Terms.
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, http://criminaljustice.state.ny.us
New York State Unified Court System, Introductory Guide to NYC Family Court,
http://www.nycourts.gov
Robert Victor Wolf (2000), Fixing Families: The Story of the Manhattan Family Treatment Court,
Center for Court Innovation.
References

56 OTHER RESOURCES
Other Resources
American Judicature Society, http://www.ajs.org
Association of the Bar of the City of New York, http://www.abcny.org
Center for Court Innovation, http://www.courtinnovation.org
New York City Administration for Children’s Services, ttp://www.nyc.gov/html/acs/html/adopt/adopt.html
New York State Assembly, http://assembly.state.ny.us
New York State Bar Association, http://www.nysba.org
New York State Office of Court Administration, http://www.courts.state.ny.us/home.htm
New York State Unified Court System, http://www.nycourts.gov
Office of the Attorney General of New York State, http://www.oag.state.ny.us
US Department of Justice, http://www.usdoj.gov

ABOUT THE FUND FOR MODERN COURTS
57
Founded in 1955, the Fund for Modern Courts is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, statewide organization
dedicated to improving the courts in New York State through advocacy, public education and in-
court programming including the Citizen Court Monitoring Program and the Citizens Jury Project.
For additional information on the Fund for Modern Courts,
please go to www.moderncourts.org or contact us at:
The Fund for Modern Courts
351 West 54th Street New York, NY 10019
Telephone: (212) 541-6741 Fax: (212) 541-7301 E-Mail: justice@moderncourts.org
About the Fund
for Modern Courts

Established in 1950, the New York Bar Foundation is the philanthropic entity of the New York State
Bar Association, dedicated to aiding charitable and educational projects to meet the law-related
needs of the public and the legal profession.
For additional information on the New York Bar Foundation,
please go to www.nysba.org and click on the New York Bar Foundation or contact us at:
The New York Bar Foundation
One Elk Street Albany, NY 12207
Telephone: (518) 463-3200 Fax: (518) 487-5699
About the New York Bar
Foundation
Designed by Marleen Adlerblum Design, New York City

The Fund for Modern Courts
351 West 54th Street
New York, NY 10019
Telephone: (212) 541-6741
Fax: (212) 541-7301
E-Mail: justice@moderncourts.org