What Is The Family Court Process In New York?
A Family Lawyer's Guide to Court in NYC
What is Family Court Like in NYC?
(Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester & Suffolk)
Family Court hears domestic cases concerning child custody, child support, spousal support, restraining orders, orders of protection, child neglect, child abuse, and other types of domestic matters.
A Family Court case is typically started when your lawyer files a petition for the type of relief you are requesting from the court, such as for child support. In Family Court the parties are called the Petitioner (the person that starts the case) and the Respondent (the other party, such as your partner or a third party that is causing you problems, such as a stalker you want a Restraining Order issued against.) In other cases a New York State agency, such as Child Protective Services (CPS) may file a petition against you after receiving a complaint from the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). If ACS or CPS has contacted you — this is serious. You should immediately contact a Family Lawyer for assistance. If you make the wrong moves, ACS and CPS can take your children away from you in Family Court.
After your petition is filed, your lawyer’s process server or the Sheriff will be instructed to serve the Respondent with the petition you filed in court. The court will then set a conference date to ensure that the Respondent has been served and to hear more about your case.
Sometimes the parties will agree to resolve the issues on their own, such as a father voluntarily agreeing to pay child support. In other cases, a hearing (similar to a trial) will take place and the Judge will decide your case based on the evidence and the arguments presented by your attorney.
Restraining Orders & Orders of Protection: How a Family Court Lawyer Assists You.
Restraining orders may be granted by the court – in a few days or less (sometimes within 24 hours.) A Restraining Order will be granted to protect your safety from abuse or other threatening conduct. In the event the person violates the Restraining Order, you can call the police – and the person will be arrested immediately and likely spend the night in jail.
If the person abusive or threatening person is living with you – you can request an Exclusionary Order from the home. The person will have to move out – immediately! A hearing will be granted a few days later, where the court will decide whether or not to keep the order in place. Restraining Orders can be granted for a variety of reason, such as emotional abuse, physical abuse, continued annoyance, threatening conduct, destruction or damage to your property, taking your apartment keys and locking you out of your apartment.
If you need a restraining order we can assist you. On the other hand, if someone has served you with a restraining order, we can defend you in Family Court. You should contact a Family Lawyer as soon as you have been served so that that your attorney can collect evidence to mount a proper defense. Restraining Order should be taken extremely seriously — if someone calls the police and alleges you violated the restraining order, you will likely be arrested and spend the night in jail!
A Family Court Lawyer Needs to Be a Skilled Litigator - Hearings Are Often Heard in Family Court. You Will Need an Attorney Who Knows How to Try a Case. There is No Substitute For an Experienced Trial Lawyer in Family Court.
How to Get Child Support in Family Court?
In order to get Child Support, your Family Lawyer will need to file a petition for Child Support. A conference will be scheduled and the court will instruct the parties to turn over their financial records, such as tax returns, W2 Statements, and recent pay stubs. Your lawyer will present evidence of your expenses, and the need for the payment of “add-on” expenses for items like child care.
The court will make a determination of how much child support will need to be paid using a child support formula. Watch our videos on the Home Page for an explanation on how to calculate child support. The non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent (the parent that the child spends more time with.)
Contact Solomos & Storms, PLLC to learn more about how to calculate child support in your specific case.
How Much Child Support Will I Be Paid?
The amount of child support paid is based on the parents’ income. Watch our videos on the Home Page for an explanation of how to calculate child support.
How to Get Temporary Maintenance (Alimony) in Family Court?
Family Court has the power to award you temporary spousal support, also known as maintenance or alimony in other states. You may be awarded temporary maintenance if there is sufficient disparity of income between you an your spouses income. In New York, spousal support is calculated by the spousal support formula – which takes into account both spouses income. Contact Solomos & Storms, PLLC to determine how much temporary maintenance you are entitled to.
Can I Get Child Support in a Divorce Case?
In a Divorce Case child support may be awarded upon your Divorce Court Lawyer filing a motion for Temporary Child Support. The court will request financial documentation from both parents in order to determine the amount of child support – which is based on the child support formula. Child support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent (the parent that the child primarily lives with.) Watch our videos on the Home Page to determine the amount of Child Support you will likely receive or be ordered to pay.
Contact Solomos & Storms, PLLC to learn more about how much child support you will receive.
Child Custody Lawyer:
Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester & Suffolk
Child Custody is determined by the “best interest of the child” standard. When awarding child custody to a parent the Family Court will take into account the needs of the child, such as schooling, extra-curricular activities, and any disabilities the child will have. If there is no court order, both parents have equal rights to physical and legal custody of the child.
In most cases, the court will appoint an independent attorney for the child. The child’s attorney will convey the child’s desires to the court, such as which parent the child wants to live with. In many cases, the court will provide great weight to the child’s chosen parent.
Ultimately, the court will award custody to the parent that best provides for the child’s needs. It is important to present yourself well in court. This means dressing and looking professional, refraining from outburst, and not making mistakes, such making offensive text messages or postings on social media. These “mistakes” can make you look hostile or immature to the court, and they can cause you to lose a custody battle.
Contact Solomos & Storms, PLLC for guidance on how to best present yourself in court.
The parent with legal custody has the right to make important decisions about a child’s care such as medical care, schooling, and religious upbringing. In many cases the Family Court will grant joint legal custody to the parents to make major decisions about the child together. However, there are instances when the parents do not get along and they are incapable of “co-parenting”, if this is the case the court will award legal custody to one parent based on “the best interest of the child.” Again, you should present yourself professionally in court and be able to demonstrate why you are the best parent to care for your child. A Family Lawyer can assist you present your evidence and make convincing arguments to the court.
The Family Court may also award one parent with “final decision making authority.” This allows one parent to unilaterally make important decisions about the child, such as medical treatment, schooling, and religious upbringing.
Family Courts in Queens, Nassau, Manhattan, Suffolk and Westchester provide generous visitation to the non-custodial parent, unless improper conduct arises during visits, such as neglect, abuse, or other harmful actions. Visitation schedules can be worked out based on the availability of the non-custodial parent, such as visitation every weekend, every other weekend, week-on/week-off schedules, and many other visitation schedules. In the summer months when the children are out of school extended visitation periods may be granted to allow for trips during vacation. If a parent desires to move a great distance from the non-custodial parent, a relocation petition will need to be filed and the parent will be required to prove that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred and the move will be in the child’s best interest.
It is important to note that you cannot force the non-custodial parent to exercise visitation rights. However, if continuous cancellations are affecting you or your children, measures can be taken to curtail visitation, require advanced notice prior to scheduling visitation, and other measures that the court finds fair and reasonable.
Contact Queens Divorce Lawyers to answer questions about child visitation.
Spousal Misconduct During Visitation
During visitation periods, some parents engage in improper conduct and try to interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child – this is known as “alienation.” This can occur in a variety of ways, such as not allowing a child to talk to the other parent during visits, monitoring phone calls, or instructing the child to say harmful things to the parent, such as, “I don’t love you.”
How to Stop Spousal Misconduct
Family Courts take alienation extremely seriously, and will severely punish repeat offenders. This can include, suspending the non-custodial parent’s child support obligations, preventing visitation with the offending parent and even changing custody. Keep in mind that custody and visitation orders are not set in stone — they can be changed based on a substantial change in circumstances. Parental misconduct may be considered a substantial change in circumstances that leads to changes in visitation and custody.
Violation of Visitation Orders:
Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester & Suffolk
Violation of visitation orders, and parenting time issues, often occur around the holidays, when emotions run high. A parent may be triggered when they learn their ex has a new partner and they are spending the holidays together with the children. Unfortunately, an emotional parent may attempt to “weaponize” the children to antagonize their ex-spouse. This should never be done, and can lead to serious consequences in court.
Disputes can arise as to who spends Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and other special days with the children. To avoid this, the lawyers at Solomos & Storms, PLLC provide detailed visitation schedules in settlement agreements, to include drop off and pick up times, and other provisions that make crystal clear where the children are to be during the holidays. However, some parents choose to intentionally violate visitation schedules, such as failing to return the children at the scheduled time– in an effort to ruin vacation plans.
Solomos & Storms, PLLC is equipped to handle these situations. There are several ways to handle this situation. In some instances a habeas corpus motion will be filed to have the kids immediately returned – so that vacation plans are not ruined.
Contact Solomos & Storms, PLLC’s experienced Family Lawyers & Divorce Lawyers to learn more.
Make sure your family attorney is trial tested. You will be surprised how many "senior attorneys" don't know how to handle difficult situations in Court. If your ex-spouse is causing problems -- you need an attorney that knows how to handle the situation!
Contempt of Court:
Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester & Suffolk
There are instances where drastic measures must be taken, such as filing a petition for contempt of court, to get a parent to comply with custody or visitation orders – this may include fines and imprisonment of up to six months. Some parents simply refuse to follow the rules and require putative measures be imposed before they choose to behave correctly. The lawyers at Solomos & Storms, PLLC are well equipped to handle these situations – so that your well-being is not affected by an antagonist ex-spouse.
Contact our Family Lawyers & Divorce Lawyers for help.
Negotiation & Settlement Agreements
Taking a case to trial can be extremely emotional and impose a financial burden on families. In addition, you cannot be certain how the Judge will rule, so there is an element of risk at trial. We do our best to amicably resolve disputes as quickly and efficiently as possible. In many Family Court cases, we are able to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement agreement that can concern issues of child custody, child visitation, child support, temporary maintenance, and other issues required to resolve the case. It is important to find an attorney that knows how to settle cases. An inexperienced lawyer, or a lawyer that is too combative can make settlement impossible. This can unnecessarily cost you time and money. Choose an attorney with the right disposition — one that will fight for you and that knows how to appropriately settle cases.
A Settlement Agreement can save you significant time and money -- make sure you choose a lawyer that is a skilled negotiator and has experience settling cases.
Inability to Settle
Not all cases can be settled. In some instances the parties are unable to budge, this can occur with child custody issues and other matters. In the event your case does not settle, we will go to trial and battle in court. At trial, our experienced attorneys we will present witnesses and evidence to demonstrate to the Judge that your desired outcome should be granted. You will likely be called to testify at trial. If you have children, your children’s appointed lawyer will present evidence at trial on behalf of your children, such as the child’s requested living arrangement. Prior to trial, we will perform substantial preparation with you to make sure you are ready for trial!
Trial: Family Court
(Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Suffolk & Westchester)
At trial, the Judge decides all unresolved issues such as, child custody and visitation, child support amounts, temporary maintenance payments, and all other aspects of your case. Keep this in mind: the Judge decides your fate at trial. Never be rude to a Judge or act unprofessionally, such conduct may not be forgotten by the Judge and can hurt you at trial. Trial can be stressful, but sometimes it is unavoidable if your spouse makes unreasonable settlement demands. You should always be prepared to go to trial in the event settlement negotiations fall apart.
The attorneys at Solomos & Storms, PLLC are battle tested trial attorneys that help put the odds of success in your favor!
We Look Forward to Working With You
The attorneys at Solomos & Storms, PLLC are battle tested Divorce Lawyers and Family Court Lawyers with experience in Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Suffolk and Westchester. We have substantial experience with a wide variety of divorce and family court cases. We are a veteran owned law firm – one of the founding partners, Derrick Storms, Esq., served in the United States Marine Corps in the Iraq War as a Reconnaissance Marine. We offer zealous advocacy, attention to detail, and client satisfaction that few firms can match. Our mission is to resolve cases as quickly and efficiently as possible. Call us for a free consultation at (718) 278-5900.
Where we serve clients?
Areas in Queens include: Astoria, Long Island City, Ditmars, Woodside, Flushing, Bayside, Rego Park, Jackson Heights, Corona, Jamaica, Elmhurst, Kew Gardens, Whitestone, College Point, Bay Terrace, Great Neck, Kings Point, Port Washington, and all areas of Queens.
Areas in Nassau include: Freeport, Merrick, Baldwin, Oceanside, Roosevelt, Hempstead, and all areas of Nassau.
Areas in Brooklyn include: Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Carrol Garden, Cobble Hill, DUMBO, Bay Ridge, Williamsburg, Fort Green, Gowanus, Brighton Beach, and all areas in Brooklyn.
Areas in Manhattan include: Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Midtown, Tribeca, Lower East Side, Financial District, and all areas in Manhattan.
Areas in Suffolk include: Babylon, Brookhaven, East Hampton, Huntington, Islip, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Smithtown, Southampton and Southold, and all areas in Suffolk.
Areas in Westchester include: Lower Westchester Pelham, New Rochelle, Yonkers, Eastchester, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, Ardsley, White Plains, Rye, Harrison, Sleepy Hollow, Pleasantville, and all areas of Westchester.