Family Court

Family Court is involved with all aspects of family law, from paternity to child support to orders of protection. The one thing it isn’t involved with is divorce, which is only granted in Supreme Court.

When a parent seeks to establish the paternity of a child, this action is filed in Family Court.  These days, paternity is fairly straightforward.  If a person denies paternity, the court will order a DNA test.

Child Support
One of the biggest issues in Family Court is child support, or non-payment of support.  Under New York law, a person is required to support his/her children. Also, if his/her spouse is in danger of becoming a public charge (going on welfare) then the working spouse must provide support in an amount to be determined by the court.  In New York, the number of children involved determines the amount owed for child support.  For one child, the support is 17 percent of the income. Two children is 25 percent, three children is 29 percent.  Income is defined as money received, from any source.  This could be through a job, or any monies that the court sees as income.

Domestic Violence
Cases of domestic violence are heard in Family Court.  The violence could be spouse on spouse, parent on child, or child on parent. The court has the power and authority to issue orders of protection. If the order is violated, then the matter could be handled either in family court or in the criminal court. Violating an order of protection is a crime, and a person can receive time in jail.

Juvenile Crime
Finally, the Family Court is the place that minors are prosecuted for committing crimes. If a minor commits a crime, such as robbery, possession of drugs or assault, he is prosecuted in Family Court. This is not a criminal proceeding, although the Family Court has the authority to sentence the minor to a correctional facility. At these facilities, there are no adult offenders, only other juveniles. The idea is not to treat them as criminals, but to give then assistance in becoming more productive people in the future.

Make sure to read our What to Expect in a Family Court page for more information about the Family Court in New York.

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