New York’s Family Courts were established to help families in crisis. These courts have jurisdiction over family matters and children. However, the Family Court does not grant divorces; those cases go to the Supreme Court. Instead, the types of cases handled by Family Courts are guardianships, adoptions, foster care approvals, juvenile delinquency cases, domestic violence issues, children in need of services (CHINS), child abuse and neglect, child custody, visitation, termination of parental rights and child support.
There are family courts in many of the counties throughout the state. On the Family Court section of the NYCourts.gov website, they list each county with a Family Court. The links take users to a detail page showing the courthouse, address, directions, phone numbers, email, a list of the judges, court attorneys, and secretaries for the court. These pages also show the hours of operation and contact information for the Court Clerk’s Office. Additionally, they offer ADA accommodations, more information on how Family Courts work, guidelines for jurors, a complete reference law library, county resources, and a glossary of common court terms. The Family Courts have strict security, and visitors must “pass through a magnetometer when entering the courthouse.”
The main NYCourts.gov website has video tutorials in many sections of the site including each district page, forms for filing cases, an e-filing option to file cases, and search for a case or pay fines, fees or other court charges. They also offer legal publications, guides, and self-help for those litigants that will not be using lawyers. They also have specialty programs for things like drug treatment, veterans’ issues, and domestic violence repeat offenders.
During the last year tallied, Family Courts saw a total of 611,470 cases. This figure has remained relatively constant throughout the past five years averaging about 630,000 cases per year.