Family Courts are divisions of local courts that specialize in domestic or family relationships cases, hearing them uniformly across the state as part of the Courts of Common Pleas system – general trial courts within every state.
The Family Court can handle matters related to child custody, visitation and support as well as Family Offense proceedings (Family Offense proceedings). Unfortunately, however, it cannot grant divorces; that task falls to Supreme Court.
Types of Claims Processed in Family Courts
United States courts handle legal matters pertaining to families in various ways. Some states have specific Family Courts while others use district, juvenile, or county courts as the venue to process family cases. Family courts tend to employ more relaxed procedures than their civil or criminal counterparts when screening new cases to decide if a judge needs to hear them.
Starting a case in family court usually begins when someone files a petition seeking any type of relief they want from a judge, such as divorcing or altering an existing child custody arrangement. This person filing the petition is known as the Petitioner while those being petitioned against are known as Respondents.
if a case cannot be settled amicably, a trial will be scheduled. Prior to trial, the judge may require both sides provide details about any witnesses they will call as evidence and give each witness a summons for court on an appointed date and time.
At hearings, judges or support magistrates listen to testimony from parties and witnesses and determine any relief awarded by the court. Custody, visitation and paternity cases usually go through only one step – the fact-finding hearing – but when dealing with family offenses such as abuse, neglect, permanent neglect etc, two hearings will take place: fact finding hearing and dispositional hearing.
In some states, courts also hear cases relating to adoption or termination of parental rights, with custody often going to the person with the strongest relationship to the child even if that individual isn’t biologically related.
People involved in certain proceedings such as custody battles or orders of protection have the right to be represented by a lawyer; otherwise, courts usually assign one for them. As witnesses in Family Court cases, it’s wise to observe proper courtroom etiquette; it is best for your lawyer to do the talking and only speak when asked; your testimony could make or break your case so be cautious with what you say without first consulting with your attorney first.
People used to rush to obtain marriage licenses as soon as possible. Unfortunately, however, there is now a legal waiting period before couples can marry once they obtain their licenses – this delay serves to protect couples from getting married too quickly and having their wedding cancelled by authorities.
Each state imposes different requirements to obtain a marriage license, though both parties generally must be aged 18 or over and present proof of age using valid photo identification. Some states also require both parties to have their parents sign a statement permitting them to marry; and in others require that couples reveal any previous marriages or divorces (if any have occurred – date/place etc); additionally there may be requirements that they not be closer than third cousins or attend premarital counseling prior to getting engaged.
Cost and payment details vary by state; in general, marriage licenses generally cost $35-150 in most instances and should be available through state websites for your specific area. Couples will also need their original birth certificates as well as certified copies of any divorce or annulment decrees issued by the court to apply for one.
Marriage offers many advantages, the main ones being joint tax filing and accessing Social Security and Medicare benefits. Studies also indicate that children raised in two-parent households tend to earn better grades in school while also experiencing less drug or alcohol abuse or underage drinking.
Although situations that lead to Family Court can be extremely distressful, having an experienced lawyer by your side can make the proceedings far less daunting. Darren M. Shapiro has extensive experience working within Long Island courts and surrounding New York City courts to assist individuals present their cases persuasively and efficiently.
When the Supreme Court struck down all 13 statewide bans on same-sex marriage in 2015, they held that marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed by due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. They further concluded that states must recognize same-sex marriages that take place in other states; this decision was widely celebrated by gay rights organizations while some religious organizations opposed it.
Opponents of same-sex marriage argued that such unions would alter traditional family structures and create an underclass of people without legal rights, yet in their majority opinion, the court held that same-sex couples are treated equally when it comes to legal benefits like property and parental rights.
The Supreme Court’s ruling did not overturn existing state laws banning same-sex marriage, but did overturn DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). Following this ruling, many states amended their family laws to allow same-sex couples to marry legally while some continued to recognize civil unions and domestic partnerships, which legally functioned like marriages.
Though marriage equality has become the law of the land, same-sex families still face unique challenges when it comes to custody and parenting matters. Courts always take into account what would best serve the child; unmarried same-sex parents usually receive joint custody unless there are specific reasons not to.
India is considering amending their constitution to permit same-sex couples to marry legally, though this move has been met with opposition by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party and religious right groups such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Jamia Ulama-i-Hind.
Indian judges have supported this proposal, including Chief Justice DY Chandrachud who noted that choosing a life partner is one of the most significant decisions one makes and should be protected as part of one’s liberty enshrined in Article 21. However, it remains uncertain if this change will actually take place.
Abuse and Neglect of Children
If someone suspects child abuse or neglect, they can file a report with their local Department of Social Services office and Child Protective Services will investigate. You can also reach out directly to their ACS office to file an anonymous complaint against it.
Courts can determine whether allegations of neglect or abuse are true or false during what’s known as a neglect or abuse proceeding under Article 10 of the Family Court Act. If a judge determines that children are being mistreated or neglected, they can order them to live with relatives or foster parents; permanency hearings will then take place every six months to monitor placement decisions made by these authorities.
At a permanency hearing, the judge will confirm the goal of the case (such as reunification with both parents) and determine what services need to be provided, while also establishing what roles each parent plays in their child’s life. Furthermore, typically this hearing allows parties to present relevant and pertinent evidence at this time.
Judges may decide to remove children from their parents’ home and place them with other appropriate relatives, the courts, or private agencies. If future reunification with parents is no longer an option, an order to terminate parental rights could be issued; if, however, parents can demonstrate significant efforts made towards making their home safe for children that meet all requirements set by court orders then CPS might decide not to intervene with an order for continued supervision by CPS instead.
Experienced family lawyers can assist in understanding the different claims processed in New York’s family courts. In particular, an attorney can explain how an incident of child abuse or neglect might impact on custody and parenting time cases heard before Supreme Court.