Although Family Law and Matrimonial Law are very similar, Family law certainly deserves its own section. You don't have to be getting a divorce to go to Family Court… you don't even have to be married or have kids. There are a lot of reasons you may find yourself in Family Court.
If you find yourself in Family Court, odds are you are involved in a highly stressful and very emotional situation. Simon & Milner, as experienced Family Law attorneys understand how tough a Family Court case can be on you. Simon & Milner understands that very often a person that finds themselves in Family Court might need a therapist as much as they need an attorney. Simon & Milner vows to be here for you in your time of need. We have 30 years of experience with Family Law matters and are keenly aware of the needs of a Family Law client.
1.- What makes family law different?
First of all, there are no Plaintiffs and Defendants. The person filing the case in Family Court (which is known as a Petition) is the Petitioner and the other party is the Respondent. In certain cases, you can also file a petition on behalf of a child.
Another major difference is that in most types of Family Law cases (particularly ones involving children) the Court is required to act “in the best interests of the children.” This means that your well-being is not necessarily the most important issue to the Court. Rather, the well-being of your children are the primary concern of the Family Court.
2.- I received a family court summons! What does it mean?
If you have received a Summons from Family Court it means that you have been named as the Respondent in a Petition filed with the Family Court. It also means you must appear at the date, time and location listed on the Summons.
There are many types of Family Court cases for which a Petition may have been filed against you. In order to determine what type of case has been filed against you, you must look at the Docket Number in the upper right hand corner of the Summons.
The Docket number will begin with either 1 or 2 letters. Those letters are a code which tell you what type of case has been filed against you. The codes are defined below as follows:
(click for more information)
AS: Surrender of Child for Adoption B: Permanent Termination of Parental RightsD: Juvenile DelinquencyE: Designated Felony (committed by a child ages 13 – 15)F: Support (Either for your children, your spouse, or both)G: GuardianshipM: Application for a minor to get marriedNA: Child AbuseNN: Child Neglect O: Order of Protection (Family Offense Petition)P: PaternityS: PINS (Person in Need of Supervision)U: Interstate Support PetitionV: Visitation and Custody
Some of these types of Petitions are rarely used; others cannot be filed by a private person and can only be filed by the County Attorney or CPS/ACS (Child Protective Services/Administration of Children Services)
3.- How do I start my own family law petition? Can I do it myself?
In most cases, the first thing you should do is speak to an experienced Family Law attorney such as one at Simon & Milner. We will review your entire situation with you and determine what types of petitions you should file.
An experienced attorney at Simon & Milner will prepare and file the proper petitions for you. You are of course free to file Family Court petitions on your own. The Family Court will even provide you assistance in filling out the petitions. However, we do not recommend you do this. Although the Court may provide assistance, the petitions prepared for you will never be of the same quality as a professionally prepared petition at Simon & Milner.
More importantly, depending on the type of petition there may need to be very specific language included in the petition in order for it to be accepted by the Court. Quite often, petitions prepared by the staff at the Court or on your own are then rejected by the Judge upon submission to him, or, only 1 type of petition may have been filed when you actually needed 2. When this happens, your family court matter, which is probably very important to you might be delayed for several weeks despite your urgent need for relief.
However, if you think your life or your child's life is in imminent danger, you should immediately call 911 and/or go to the Family Court. If you are forced to file your own petition, your attorney can later ask the Judge for permission to file an Amended Petition on your behalf.
4.- How long will I have to wait to go to court after I file a petition?
In Family Court there is no simple answer to this question. As Family Court deals with people and their lives the Court must make scheduling determinations based on importance. If you are asking the Court for an Order of Protection a Judge will probably see you on the same day and order the Respondent (the party you are seeking the Order of Protection against) to come to court within a week or two.
If you have filed a petition for Child support you can expect to wait several weeks for your first court date.
Each case will have its own timeline depending on the nature of the case.
5.- Where do I have to go to court?
Most Family Court Cases are heard in the following locations:
Bronx County Family Court
900 Sheridan Avenue
Bronx, NY 10451(718) 618-2098
Kings County Criminal Court
360 Adams Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201(347) 401-9600
Nassau County Family Court
1200 Old Country Road
Westbury, NY 11590(516) 571-9033
NEW YORK COUNTY
New York County Family Court
60 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10013(646) 386-5200
Queens County Family Court
151-20 Jamaica Avenue
Jamaica, NY 11432(718) 298-0197
Richmond County Family Court
100 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY 10301(718) 675-8800
Suffolk County Family Court has 2 locations.
The location you will have to go to depends on
which Family Court the Petition was filed in.
Suffolk County Family Court
Cohalan Court Complex
400 Carleton Avenue
Central Islip, NY 11722(631) 853-4289
Suffolk County Family Court
210 Center Dr (2nd Floor)
Riverhead, NY 11901(631) 852-3905
6.- Which court do I file in?
In Family Court, the answer is not as simple as the County you live in. Usually, you must file the Petition in the County in which the child who is the subject of the petition lives in. If this is not your first time to Family Court, or if you have been previously divorced, there is a significant possibility that your prior agreement specified which Court should hear any future Family Court petitions regarding a particular child or children?
7.- Do I have to go to every court appearance? What if the court I need is far away?
The short answer is yes, you must always attend every appearance at Family Court unless the Judge has specifically excused your appearance. Family Court is very much a “People's Court” and your appearance is necessary to the process.
Sometimes, you could be summoned to appear or forced to file at a distant court (perhaps the child moved with his other parent to another part of the State). In cases such as this, the Family Court will usually allow you to appear telephonically (be telephone) provided you call in from your attorney's office.
There may be instances where you will be required to attend in person regardless of the distance you must travel, but usually, in such cases, you will be able to attend the proceeding from the comfort of a conference room at the office of Simon & Milner.
8.- I keep hearing about CPS & ACS. What are they? Is there a difference between the two?
CPS stands for Child Protective Services. ACS stands for the Administration for Children Services. Both agencies are responsible for the protection of children. When a person makes an anonymous complaint about child abuse or neglect, they are the agencies that send caseworkers out to homes and schools to investigate. They are the agency that has the power to file a Child Abuse or Child Neglect Petition against you.
The only difference between the 2 agencies is that ACS only exists in New York City; CPS is the name of the agency outside of New York City responsible for protecting children.
9.- How will you handle my case?
Simon & Milner has decades of experience handling Family Court matters. Simon & Milner understands how stressful and emotional the entire process can be and we want to assure you that we can answer all of your questions and try our best to lessen your fears.
At your initial appointment we will go through the intricate details of your particular situation and will review in detail any petitions that have been filed against you. We will then determine what petitions, if any, you need to file. We will walk you through the entire process, and explain how your case will proceed.
Simon & Milner, with their extensive experience will be able to give you some idea of what the possible outcomes of your case will be (of course every case will be different but 30 years of Family Law work has given us a pretty good idea of the direction a case will go in).
We vow to be there for you for every emergency and situation that may pop up during the pendency of your case. You can always call our office or schedule an appointment to come in if a new problem arises or if you simply have questions or concerns. Simon & Milner understands the needs of a Family Court litigant.
10.- How much will this cost?
There is no way to give a specific price for any type of case. Just as every person and family is different, so is every family court situation. Some cases may be resolved in 1 or 2 appearances; others may drag on for months… or longer. Obviously, the more time and the more court appearances Simon & Milner must put into your individual case, the higher your legal fees will be.
There are no fees whatsoever to get into the Family Court. Anyone can file a Family Court petition at any time for free. Also, your child (assuming your family court case involves a child) will be appointed their own attorney (known as a Law Guardian) for free as well.
Charged with a DUI and need legal representation? Contact the law firm of Simon & Milner in Valley Stream, New York, now. Call (516) 561-6622
or (800) 807-5616