PRACTICE GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY FAMILY COURTS

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1 PRACTICE GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY FAMILY COURTS FALL Broadway, 10 th Floor New York, New York Tel Fax

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS WHAT IS FAMILY COURT?... 3 NYC FAMILY COURT LOCATIONS... 4 INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PARTS... 6 FAMILY COURT HOUSE DIRECTORY... 7 PLAYERS IN THE COURT HOW TO GUIDE ON FILING FOR CHILD CUSTODY/VISITATION HOW TO GUIDE ON FILING FOR CHILD SUPPORT ADJOURNMENTS DISCOVERY HOW TO GUIDE ON MOTION PRACTICE COURT APPEARANCES AFTER THE HEARING HOW TO OBTAIN COPIES OF COURT FILES HOW TO OBTAIN MINUTES COURT ETIQUETTE FREQUENTLY SUBPOENAED ENTITIES USEFUL WEBSITES GLOSSARY OF FAMILY COURT TERMS

3 WHAT IS FAMILY COURT? The Family Court is part of New York State s unified court system. The Family Court is not a court of general jurisdiction, but rather has jurisdiction over only specific types of cases, as detailed in Family Court Act 115, and within the parameters described throughout the Family Court Act. The Family Court has jurisdiction over cases involving family offenses (domestic violence), custody, visitation, paternity, spousal support, child support, abuse and neglect of children, and juvenile delinquency. The Family Court does not have jurisdiction over divorces, which must be heard in Supreme Court. The Family Court also does not have the jurisdiction to divide and distribute property, unless the Supreme Court issues a specific order referring that issue to the Family Court. In Family Court, cases may be heard either by (1) a judge; (2) a support magistrate; or (3) a court attorney/referee. A support magistrate hears cases involving support and paternity, within certain parameters as defined by Family Court Act 439. A court attorney/referee generally hears cases involving custody and visitation. Family offense proceedings should be heard by a judge. Please note the information for the telephone numbers noted below is subject to change, for up to date information, visit the NYS Unified Court website at 3

4 NYC FAMILY COURT LOCATIONS Each of the five counties in New York City has a Family Court: BRONX Family Court, Bronx County 900 Sheridan Avenue (on the corner of 161 st Street) Bronx, NY It is accessible from the 4 (not the 5), B, or D train to the Yankee Stadium/161 st Street stop. (On the D train, some of the subway signs say River Avenue.) If you are coming from the 2 train (not the 3!) you can transfer to the 4 train at the 149 th Street stop. Note, the Bronx Hall of Justice located at 265 East 161 st Street currently houses the IDV court. Other Family Court parts may be transferred to that location in the future. To find out if your case has been transferred to the new courthouse, contact (718) or visit to find out the part in which your case will be heard. Use file number to locate cases related to your client. BROOKLYN Family Court, Kings County 330 Jay Street Brooklyn, NY It is accessible from the 4, 5 and the 2, 3 Borough Hall stops, the R Court Street stop, and the A, C, F and R Jay Street - MetroTech Stops. MANHATTAN Family Court, New York County 60 Lafayette Street (corner of Lafayette and Leonard) New York, NY /5206 It is accessible from the 4, 5, 6 Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop, the Chambers Street stop or the 1 Franklin Street stop (closer than Chambers, but 1 only), and the R City Hall stop. QUEENS Family Court, Queens County Jamaica Avenue (b/w Archer and 151 st Street) Jamaica, NY It is accessible from the E, J, Z or F train (from the 51 st street and Lexington Avenue stop on the 6 and E, it takes approximately 45 minutes to get to the court house). The Courthouse is across the street from the Jamaica Center stop, last stop on the E, J or Z train On the F train it is the Parsons Boulevard stop. The Court House is two blocks from this stop. It is also accessible by Long Island Railroad s Jamaica Center stop. STATEN ISLAND Family Court, Richmond County 100 Richmond Terrace Staten Island, NY

5 /5461 First, you will need to take the subway to the South Ferry Terminal, which is just off Battery Park in lower Manhattan. The subways that go there are the 4 and 5 lines (Bowling Green stop), the R line (Whitehall stop), and the 1 line (South Ferry stop). Then you will follow signs to the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry ride is free, and takes 25 minutes. You are advised to take the ferry that leaves Manhattan at 8:30AM. You will arrive on Staten Island by 8:55AM and have more than enough time to reach the courthouse by 9:15AM. If you miss the 8:30 ferry, the next ferry departs at 8:45AM. Ferries depart from South Ferry every 15 minutes during rush hour, which is from 7:30AM to 9:30AM. When you get off the ferry in Staten Island, just follow the mass of people heading to the street exits. The exits are indicated with signs marking letters of the alphabet (A through E). It is most direct to head all the way to the right and exit at the letter E. Once you are outside, you will be on a bus ramp. Just walk straight up the ramp to the road, which is Richmond Terrace. You will see Borough Hall, an attractive, older looking stone -faced municipal building, directly across the street. Cross the street and turn right. Continue straight on Richmond Terrace for two blocks. You will pass the Supreme Court, then the 120 th precinct, which is covered with blue scaffolding, and the Family Court will be the next building on your left. The minor league Yankees stadium can be found directly across the street to your right. Head up the stairs to the entrance of the courthouse. There is only one door by which to enter. The courthouse can also be reached by driving over the Verrazzano Bridge. Take I-278 West across the bridge. Take the exit toward BAY ST Stay straight to go onto SCHOOL RD. Turn LEFT onto BAY ST. BAY ST becomes RICHMOND TERRACE. 5

6 INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PARTS Based on the one family - one judge concept, the State's Integrated Domestic Violence Courts exist to handle all related cases pertaining to a single family where the underlying issue is domestic violence. The Court seeks to promote justice and protect the rights of all litigants while providing a comprehensive approach to case resolution, increasing offender accountability, ensuring victim safety, integrating the delivery of social services, and eliminating inconsistent and conflicting judicial orders. Each IDV Court empowers a single judge with the authority to handle family, criminal and matrimonial matters. Criminal allegations of domestic violence should form the threshold requirement for entry into the IDV Court, with related cases in at least two of the three areas of the law. BRONX INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT, BRONX COUNTY Bronx County Hall of Justice 265 East 161 st Street Bronx, NY (718) Judge Assigned to IDV: Diane Kiesel BROOKLYN INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT, KINGS COUNTY Kings County Supreme Court, Criminal Term 320 Jay Street Brooklyn, NY (347) Judge Assigned to IDV: Patricia E. Henry Judge Assigned to IDV2: Esther M. Morgenstern MANHATTAN INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT, NEW YORK COUNTY 100 Centre Street New York, NY (646) Judge Assigned to IDV: Tandra L. Dawson QUEENS INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT, QUEENS COUNTY Queens County Supreme Court, Criminal Term Queens Blvd. Kew Gardens, NY (718) Judge Assigned to IDV: Lenora Gerald STATEN ISLAND INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT, RICHMOND COUNTY Richmond County Supreme Court 18 Richmond Terrace Staten Island, NY (718) Judge Assigned to IDV: Catherine M. DiDomenico 6

7 FAMILY COURT HOUSE DIRECTORY There are several important offices in each of the Family Courts that attorneys and their clients should be aware of. These offices offer support and administrative assistance throughout the filing processes. The locations of offices and procedures are subject to change please contact the court to verify all information. 1) The Safe Horizon Reception Center is a safe place where victims of domestic violence may stay while waiting to go to court. The Reception Center is a good place to meet with petitioners, especially if the batterer is waiting outside the court part for the case to be called. Safe Horizon Counselors assist victims who come to Family Court to obtain Orders of Protection. They provide petitioners with information necessary to navigate the court system. They inform petitioners that they can file for an Order of Protection in both the Family Court and Criminal Court. They assist petitioners with their petitions, provide instruction about the Affidavit of Service, and explain how to file for a Violation of an Order of Protection. At their discretion, counselors provide in-court advocacy. For general information they can be reached at HOPE (4673). 2) The Petition Room is where people go to file their petitions. Petitioners form a line at a service window and tell the clerks what they are filing for (Orders of Protection, Custody, Paternity, Child Support, etc.). The Petitioners then wait to be called in and interviewed by either a petition clerk or student advocate who will prepare their petitions. Attorneys who draft their own petitions prior to coming to court can bring their petitions to the petition room and the petitions will be assigned docket numbers and then sent to the intake parts (see Intake Parts Section below). 3) The CAP Unit (Court Action Process Unit) also known in some boroughs as CAPU, is where the petitioner goes to pick up a Judge s orders, including Orders of Protection, Temporary Orders of Protection, child custody orders, etc. The clerks there will also probably tell the petitioner that the court can arrange for the police to serve the respondent with the summons and the order. (Note: Police are only mandated to serve orders of protection. If she is petitioning for some other relief she will have to arrange for service in some other way. However, you should inform an order of protection petitioner that going to the precinct on her own and asking the police officers there to effect service is recommended. If the petitioner chooses this method, she should make sure that the police officers fill out the affidavit of service form when they serve the respondent. The CAP unit should provide the Petitioner with 2 copies each of the Petition and the temporary orders (if one is issued by the court). One copy is for the Petitioner and the other copy is to be served on the Respondent. The Petitioner will also be given an Affidavit of Service form and an envelope with the court s address on the front. Once the Respondent has been properly served, the Affidavit of Service should be completed, and the Petitioner should make a copy of the completed affidavit of service, then mail the copy back to the court in the self-addressed envelope. The Petitioner should keep the original Affidavit of Service and bring it to court on the adjourn date. Without the Affidavit of Service there is no proof that any temporary orders ever went into effect or that the Respondent had notice of the hearing. 7

8 Note: After each court appearance, it is important for attorneys to go to CAP Unit/CAPU themselves to get copies of any orders. Often, there are mistakes in the orders, which can be corrected immediately by going directly to the judge s clerk after picking up the papers. Otherwise, you might be forced to make a motion to correct the order if you did not pick up the order immediately after the court appearance. 4) The Record Room The Record Room is where you can review and make copies of documents in the client s files. In order to obtain access to the file an attorney must make a Notice of Appearance stating that s/he is the attorney on the case or obtain a release & authorization from the client authorizing the attorney to look at and copy the file. It is very important to bring identification and change for the photocopy machines. If you wish to have someone from your managing clerk s office make copies of the court file you must: 1) make sure a Notice of Appearance is on file or give the Notice of Appearance to the clerk to file and 2) write a letter specifically authorizing the managing clerk by name to look at and copy the file. 5) Medical Records Room a.k.a. Parts Division where all subpoenaed records (such as hospital and police records) are sent and kept. In some of the Family Courts these records are kept in the Record Room of the Court or the Clerk s Office and not a designated medical record room or Parts Division. When subpoenaing a document, you should check the Medical Record Room/Parts Division/Record Room/ or Clerk s Office to see if your records have arrived. The attorney who subpoenaed the records should be allowed to sign out and take the records with them. If no one has come to claim the records prior to the court date, the records get sent to the proper judge s part on the adjourn date. You can see the clerk of the part to retrieve the records on the court date. When subpoenaing records, it is important to include the Docket Number, the Judge, the adjourn date and instructions on how to return the subpoenaed documents to the appropriate records room. Also include a certification and delegation of authority forms. 6) Parts These are the courtrooms where the judges are located. 7) Intake Parts These are the courtrooms where the judge will see the Petitioner after they have filed their petition. In the intake part, the judge will review their petitions, orders a return date, issues a summons or warrant for the other side to appear, and will issue any temporary orders. The intake judge then adjourns the case for another court date and may assign the case to a different judge. 8) Specialized intake Specialized intake exists in the Bronx, Kings and Queens County moving toward One Family/One Judge approach. There are no special courtrooms for specialized intake. The Court seeks to promote justice and protect the rights of all litigants while providing a comprehensive approach to case resolution, increasing offender accountability, ensuring victim safety, integrating the delivery of social services, and eliminating inconsistent and conflicting judicial orders. In family court, all Judges are specialized, meaning they only hear certain types of cases. The CVO (custody, visitation and order of protection) judges only hear custody, visitation and order of protection cases. There are also child protective judges and juvenile delinquency judges. 8

9 Specialized intake is where after a petitioner files a petition, she goes in front of a judge who is specialized in the type of case she has filed for intake. This judge will then issue service, temporary orders (see intake section) and will keep the case on their docket rather than referring it out to a different judge. This way, the petitioner stays with the same judge throughout the course of the litigation. Each IDV Court empowers a single judge with the authority to handle family, criminal and matrimonial matters. Criminal allegations of domestic violence should form the threshold requirement for entry into the IDV Court, with related cases in at least two of the three areas of the law. 9) Clerk s Office The Clerk s office is a general go to place to ask questions, find locations and find out the procedure of the Family Court. It is also the office where you stamp court filings and find a notary, if available. In some boroughs, subpoenaed records are kept here. 10) Motion Clerk Office This is the office where you file any motions pertaining to your Family Court matter. 11) Support Collection Unit (SCU) This is a government agency that assists individuals with child support issues including filing the support case and collecting payments. 12) Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) OSCE provides child support services to all parents throughout the 5 boroughs regardless of income. Parents who are receiving public assistance will be referred to support services automatically, all others must apply in Family Court. Some of the support services offered by OCSE include location investigation, paternity establishment, financial investigation, support establishment, support collection, support enforcement, modification of child support orders, cost of living adjustment, and medical support establishment and enforcement. ****For all specific court information, including contact numbers and locations, please visit: 9

10 FAMILY JUSTICE CENTERS The New York City Family Justice Center under the auspices of the Justice Department and the City of New York s Mayor s Office to Combat Domestic Violence offers centralized, comprehensive, and compassionate services to domestic violence victims. The Family Justice Center is designed to serve people who live in or have suffered domestic violence in the particular borough where the center is located. No appointment necessary. Brooklyn The Brooklyn Family Justice Center is located at 350 Jay Street and is open weekdays 9AM-5PM. Subway: By Bus: Take the A, C, F or R train to Jay Street-MetroTech; the 2, 3, 4, or 5 train to Borough Hall. The B25, B26, B38, B51, B54, B57, B61, B65, B67, and B75 busses all stop near the Center. There is paid parking available at the following location: Queens Marriott Parking Garage 333 Adams Street, (Between Johnson and Willoughby Streets) The Queens Family Justice Center is located at nd Avenue and is open weekdays 9AM-5PM. Subway: By Bus: Take the E or F train to Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike. Use the Court House/North Side exist and walk east on Queens Boulevard Past Queens Borough Hall. Turn left onto 82 nd Avenue the Center is on the east side of the Street. The Q10, Q37, Q46, Q60 and Q74 buses all stop near the Center. Bronx The Bronx Family Justice Center is located at 198 East 161 st Street, 2 nd Floor and is open weekdays 9AM-5PM. Subway: Take the No. 2 or 4 train to Yankee Stadium/161 st Street or take the B or D train to Yankee Stadium/161 st Street/River Avenue. 10

11 By Bus: The BX 6, BX 13 and BX 55 buses stop at 161st St./Grand Concourse near the Center. Manhattan The Manhattan Family Justice Center is located at 80 Centre Street, 5 th Floor and is open weekdays 9AM-5PM. Subway: By Bus: Take the 4, 5, 6 or J, Z train to Chambers St./Brooklyn Bridge or take the A,C train to Chambers St., or take the R, N, Q to Canal. The M-1, M-6, M-9, M-15, M-22, and M-101 buses stop near the Center. 11

12 BRONX COUNTY FAMILY COURT JUDGES DIRECTORY BY COUNTY floor Court Location Judge Part -- Honorable Diane Kiesel IDV-F Lower main Shira Atzmon, FCSM 20 & 23 & 23-U Lower main Harold E. Bahr III, FCSM 22 & 22-U 7th Floor Honorable Tracey A. Bing 17 & 17-Conf. A 6 th and 7 th floor Jennifer S. Burtt Esq., Court Attorney Referee 40 & 46 7 th and 6 th floor Bonnie Cohen-Gallet Esq., Court 40 & 43 Attorney Referee 7th Floor Honorable Sarah P. Cooper 9 & 9-Conf. A 7th Floor Karen M. C. Cortes, Court Attorney Referee 40 & 42 3rd Floor Susan S. Danoff, JHO 50 3rd Floor David Gilman, JHO 40 & 51 2 & 2-Conf. A 6 th Floor Honorable Alma M. Gomez 7th Floor Honorable Sidney Gribetz 6 & 6-Conf. A 7th Floor & 6th Floor Annette Louise Guarino, Court Attorney Referee 40 & 47 3rd Floor Catherine Marie Guido, Court Attorney Referee 49 3rd Floor Honorable Lisa S. Headley 3 & 3-Conf. A 6th Floor Honorable Robert D. Hettleman 16 & 16-Conf. A Lower main Jodi E. Hirschman, FCSM 20 & 24 Honorable David J. Kaplan 18 & 18-Conf. A 52 6 th Floor 7th Floor 8th Floor Lauren Norton Lerner, Court Attorney Referee Sue Levy, Court Attorney Referee 40 & 41 Lower Main Anthony Lopez, FCSM 20 & 27 & 27-U Lower main Ann Marie Loughlin, FCSM 20 & 26 & 26-U 7 th floor & 6th Jeanette Madrid, Court Attorney Referee 40 & 48 3 rd floor Honorable Ruben A. Martino 8 & 8-Conf. A 7 th and 3 rd Rosanna Mazzotta, Court Attorney 40 & 44 Referee 7 th floor Honorable Michael R. Milsap 5 & 5-Conf. A 7th Honorable Peter J. Passidomo 4 & 4-A -- Honorable Peter J. Passidomo Intake I & P 7th Honorable Valerie A. Pels 12 & 12-CONF A -- Honorable Joan L. Piccirillo 5-XMT 3rd Honorable Dakota D. Ramseur 15 & 15- Conf. A 7 intake I Lower main Kemp J. Reaves, FCSM 25 & 25-U -- Honorable Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson 19 & 19-Conf. A -- Honorable Brenda Rivera 92 & 92-Conf. A 7 th floor Honorable Gayle P. Roberts 1 & 1-Conf A 7th Honorable Fiordaliza A. Rodriguez 11 & 11-Conf. A & intake P -- Honorable Llinet M. Rosado 5-XMT Lower main Paul Ryneski, FCSM 20 & 21 & 21-U 12

13 7th Honorable Carol R. Sherman 7 & 7-Conf. A & intake I -- Honorable Monica D. Shulman 77 & 77-Conf. A Intake P 7th Honorable Linda Tally 14 & 14-Conf. A & Intake P 7th Honorable Gilbert A. Taylor 10 & 10-Conf. A & intake P -- Tamra Walker, Court Attorney Referee 40 & 52 KINGS COUNTY FAMILY COURT Judge Part Honorable Maria Arias 9-9A Lisa Aschkenasy, Court Attorney Referee 51 Honorable Elizabeth Barnett 4 Kathryn A. Baur, FCSM 25 & 25-ES Honorable Alan Beckoff 2 & 2A Honorable Sharon A. Bourne-Clarke 14 & 14A Jennifer L. Castaldi, FCSM 29 Susan S. Danoff, JHO 52 Honorable Ben Darvil Jr. 7 & 7A Honorable Jacqueline B. Deane 15 & 15A Honorable Alicea Elloras 21 John M. Fasone, FCSM Honorable Ilana Gruebel 8 Adele Alexis Harris, FCSM Andrea Hecht-Zaki, FCSM Frank M. Hoelldobler, Court Attorney Referee 42 Honorable Dean T. Kusakabe Emily M. Martinez, Court Attorney Referee Nisha Menon, Court Attorney Referee & 27-ES 22 & 22-ES 28 & 28-ES 16 & 16A 44 & Intake A Jennifer Mitek, Court Attorney Referee 43 & Intake A Mirna Mompelas, FCSM 24 & 24-ES Honorable Margaret Morgan 10 & 10A Honorable Robert D. Mulroy 12 & 12A Honorable Ann E. OShea 17 & 17A Nicholas J. Palos, FCSM 26 & 26-ES Honorable William Franc Perry Special Honorable Erik S. Pitchal 20 & 20A Richard N. Ross, JHO Intake A Honorable Jeanette Ruiz 1 & 1A Honorable Barbara Salinitro 5 & 5A Elizabeth Shamahs, FCSM 23 & 23-ES & 23-IDV Denise M. Valme-Lundy, Court Attorney Referee 54 Honorable Javier E. Vargas 3 Honorable Judith D. Waksberg 19 Valerie Waldeier, Court Attorney Referee Intake A & Intake B Honorable Lillian Wan 18 & 18A Honorable Amanda E. White 11 Honorable Jacqueline D. Williams Edward W. Yuskevich, Court Attorney Referee 40 Honorable Alexander Calabrese 6 & 6A 80RH 13

14 NEW YORK COUNTY FAMILY COURT FLOOR Judge Part Honorable Leticia M. Ramirez 80 V 9s Gail A. Adams, Court Attorney Referee 46 4D1 Lewis A. Borofsky, FCSM 23 8N Marva A. Burnett Esq., Court Attorney Referee 48 8E3A Tionnei Clarke, FCSM 34 5F1 Christopher W. Coffey Esq., Court Attorney Referee 49 5A1 Susan M. Doherty Esq., Court Attorney Referee 41 8E2A Vanessa Evans, FCSM 24 & 24A 8S Honorable Adetokunbo O. Fasanya 5 & 5-CONF A -- Honorable Carol Goldstein 2 & 2-CONF A 9N Paul H. Grosvenor, JHO 90-FCR -- Patricia A. Hickey, FCSM 38-ISP 6S Honorable Douglas E. Hoffman 9 5N Honorable Ta-Tanisha D. James 4 & 4-CONF A 7B1 George L. Jurow, JHO 53 4D2 Karen D. Kolomechuk, FCSM 21 4N Honorable Karen I. Lupuloff 1 & 1-CONF A -- Kevin Mahoney, FCSM 39A 5N Honorable Emily M. Olshansky 6 & 6-CONF A 5S Honorable Jane Pearl 10 & 10-CONF A 5S Honorable Clark V. Richardson 11 & 11-CONF A 7E Fiordaliza A. Rodriguez, Court Attorney Referee 50 6N Serena Rosario, FCSM 22 8A3 Robert F.X. Ross, FCSM 33 8E2B Paul Ryneski, FCSM 36 8C3A Linda H. Safron, FCSM 35 5B1 Pamela Scheininger, Court Attorney Referee 43 9S Stephanie Schwartz, Court Attorney Referee 45 7E & 9N Tamara Schwartz, Court Attorney Referee 42 & 90-FCR 8E1A Jessica Sin, FCSM Honorable J. Machelle Sweeting 3 6S 81 & 81A Matthew Troy, FCSM 4N4D18 Honorable Stewart H. Weinstein 7 & 7-CONF A Cheryl Weir-Reeves, FCSM 20 14

15 RICHMOND COUNTY FAMILY COURT Court Location Judge Part 25 Hyatt Street Alexandra Byun, Court Attorney Referee Part Hyatt Street Gregory L. Gliedman, FCSM Part Hyatt Street Janele Hyer-Spencer, FCSM Part 21 Richmond County Family Court Honorable Peter F. DeLizzo 4 & 4A Richmond County Family Court Alison M. Hamanjian, Court Attorney Referee 42 Richmond County Family Court Honorable Arnold Lim 3 & 3A Richmond County Family Court Honorable Helene D. Sacco 2 Richmond County Family Court Honorable Karen B. Wolff 1 & 1a QUEENS COUNTY FAMILY COURT FLOOR Judge Part -- Ashley Black, Court Attorney Referee Joette M. Blaustein, FCSM 22 & 22 IDV & 22-E 320 Honorable Stephen J. Bogacz 8 & 8-Conf-A 260 Honorable Robert I. Caloras 6 3E Katerina Contaratos, FCSM Honorable Diane Costanzo 10 & 10-Conf A 430 Michael J. Fondacaro, FCSM 25 & 25-E 220 Honorable Connie Gonzalez 1 & 1-CONF A -- Solange N. Grey-Humphreys, FCSM 28 & 28-E 390 Honorable John M. Hunt 2 -- Honorable Anne-Marie Jolly Sudeep Kaur, FCSM 24 & 24-E 470 David A. Kirshblum, FCSM 20 & 20-E --- JANE A. MCGRADY, Court Attorney Referee 40 & CVO-A 230 Wanda Wardlaw Matthews, Court Attorney Referee 48 3E Honorable Margaret Morgan 27XMT 3W Marilyn J. Moriber Esq, Court Attorney Referee 49 & CVO-A 240 Margaret M. Mulrooney Esq., Court Attorney Referee 44 3E Mary Elizabeth Neggie, FCSM 27 & 27-E 490 Honorable Mildred T. Negron Honorable Mary R. ODonoghue 12 & 12-CONF A 350 Honorable Dweynie E. Paul 7 & 7-CONF A 250 Honorable Joan L. Piccirillo 5 & 5-CONF A & 5-FTC 280 CRAIG RAMSEUR, Court Attorney Referee Honorable Marybeth S. Richroath Honorable Emily Ruben 4 & 4-CONF A 440 Julie Stanton Esq., Court Attorney Referee 45 & CVO-A -- Honorable Carol Ann Stokinger Juanita E. Wing, Court Attorney Referee 43 & CVO-A -- Marilyn L. Zarrello Esq., Court Attorney Referee 51 15

16 PLAYERS IN THE COURT Judges - The judge is in charge of the hearing (trial). He or she listens to witnesses, examines evidence, and then decides if the case has been proven. There are no juries in Family Court. Support Magistrates - Support magistrates are appointed by the Unified Court System Chief Administrator for a three-year term, to hear and determine support proceedings. Pursuant to the Uniform Rules '205.34, a support proceeding will immediately be assigned to a support magistrate rather than a judge. Where the issue of child support arises in another type of case before a judge (such as an order of protection or custody case), that judge will enter a temporary order of support and refer the case to a support magistrate for further proceedings. Support cases (petitions filed seeking support for a child or spouse) and paternity cases (petitions filed requesting the court to enter an order declaring someone to be the father of a child) are heard by support magistrates. Court Officers - Uniformed Court Officers are assigned to every courtroom and hearing room. They are responsible for security throughout the building, and also call the parties into the hearing rooms when the judges or support magistrates are ready to hear each case. You can check-in with the court officers assigned to the part. Clerks - The court clerk or court assistant sits near the judge or support magistrate and prepares court orders for the judge or support magistrate to sign. Court-Attorneys/Law Secretaries - A court attorney is a lawyer who works with and assists the judge by researching legal questions and helping to write decisions. The court attorney may also meet with the attorneys or parties to a case to try to reach an agreement without the need for a trial; this is called case conferencing. Court-Attorney Referees - Some cases such as custody and visitation are conducted by a referee who may hear and decide the case and issue orders, or hear the case and refer to a judge for a decision. 18-b s An 18-b lawyer is a lawyer in private practice who is assigned by the court to represent a person in court who cannot afford to pay. They are also known as court-appointed attorneys. Lawyer for Child(ren) A lawyer is assigned by the judge to represent a child in a Family Court case. A lawyer for child(ren) can be 18-b attorneys or attorneys who work for special agencies that represent children such as the Children s Law Center (in Brooklyn and the Bronx) or Lawyers for Children (in Manhattan). Guardian Ad Litem - A guardian ad litem is a person assigned by the judge to act in place of a parent for a child whose parents are required to appear in court but are not available to appear, or assigned for an adult who is mentally or physically unable to speak for himself or herself in court Probation Officers work for the Department of Probation, and prepare reports for the judges about the people involved in the cases. The Probation Officer assigned to the courtroom is called a Court Liaison Officer ("CLO"). ACS stands for the Administration for Children s Services, the city agency responsible for the welfare of children. Petitioners may also refer to it as Bureau of Child Welfare BCW or Child Welfare Administration CWA, its former names. The Family Court may ask ACS to investigate the parents and do a home study to assess the child s safety and living situation. 16

17 District Attorneys are the Prosecutors representing the City of New York. They may be present for juvenile delinquency cases. SACC or ACC stands for Special Assistant Corporation Counsel or Assistant Corporation Counsel. SACC are NYC attorneys who represent ACD on abuse/neglect cases and ACC represent the City on juvenile delinquency cases. 17

18 HOW TO GUIDE ON ORDERS OF PROTECTION This guide is abbreviated. For more detailed information on Order of Protection cases, please see Her Justice s Order of Protection manual entitled Representing Victims of Domestic Violence in Family Offense Proceedings. SAFETY PLANNING Before representing a client seeking an Order of Protection, it is important to understand that such orders are not bulletproof and often will serve to further enrage an abuser. A woman is often in the greatest danger when she leaves a violent relationship or attempts to seek legal protection for herself. Many women who leave or take action against their abusers are stalked, harassed, attacked and even killed by their abusers. Any woman who petitions for an Order of Protection should be especially conscious of her safety and plan accordingly before filing a petition. Attorneys should discuss safety planning with their clients at the very first meeting, before a petition is filed in Family Court. (See Her Justice Family Court Order of Protection Manual, entitled Representing Victims of Domestic Violence in Family Offense Proceedings ) STANDING TO FILE IN FAMILY COURT Family Courts have been authorized to issue civil orders of protection against the non-relatives of domestic violence victims under a bill signed into law by Governor A. Paterson on July 21, Previously, the family court had contained a relatively restrictive definition of family in prescribing who has standing to seek an order of protection in Family Court, encompassing only the first four categories noted below. The 2008 law extended civil orders of protection to people who have had an intimate relationship with their alleged abusers and includes intimate partners, including dating couples and same sex couples and teenage couples. The victims need not ever have lived with their abusers nor have been sexually intimate with them for the relationship to qualify under the new law. Pursuant to Family Court Act 812, 821 and 822, only the following persons have standing to file a family offense petition in Family Court: o persons related by consanguinity 1 or affinity 2 o persons legally married o divorced persons o persons with a child in common o persons in an intimate partner relationship The person who files the petition is referred to as "petitioner," while the opposing party is called "respondent." GETTING AN ORDER OF PROTECTION Which county should the petition be filed in? 1 Related by blood. 2 Related by marriage (relation one spouse has to blood relatives of other spouse). 18

19 o Pursuant to FCA 818, a victim of domestic violence may file her petition in either (1) the county in which the acts occurred; (2) the county in which either party resides; or (3) the county in which the family resides. If she is residing in a battered women s shelter, she may file her petition in the county in which the shelter is located. Step 1: Initial Filing of the Petition o Pro Se Filing - In general, most women will file for an order of protection pro se by going to the petition room in the Family Court and saying they want an order of protection. The individual who asks for the order of protection is the petitioner and the accused abuser is the respondent. A clerk will type up their family offense petition which asks for an order of protection and sets forth the allegations. o Attorney Filing - If an attorney is retained prior to the commencement of the proceeding, the attorney should prepare the family offense petition. The attorney may also prepare the summons or may ask the clerk to issue a summons on the court s form. When an attorney drafts the family offense petition, the attorney must accompany the client to Family Court to file the petition in the petition room and make an application for a temporary order of protection in the intake part. If you have a client that has already filed a petition pro se, review their petition to ensure that it is legally sufficient, and if it is not, you should file an amended petition where not more than 20 days have passed since her original petition was filed and served upon the respondent. If more than 20 days have passed since her original filing and service, then you must seek leave of court seeking permission to amend her original filing. If granted, you will then file the amended petition and serve it upon the Respondent prior to the next return date. o You can download official court forms and petitions from the Unified Court website at Please copy your mentor with a draft of your pleadings prior to filing them in court. o Family offenses include the following, pursuant to FCA 812: Disorderly Conduct Harassment (1 st and 2 nd Degree) Aggravated Harassment in the 2 nd Degree Sexual Misconduct Sexual Abuse (2 nd and 3 rd Degree) Forcible Touching Stalking (1 st, 2 nd 3 rd and 4 th Degree) Criminal Mischief Menacing (2 nd and 3 rd Degree) Reckless Endangerment Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation Strangulation (2 nd and 3 rd Degree) Assault (2 nd and 3 rd Degrees) Attempted Assault [NEW] Identity Theft (1 st, 2 nd and 3 rd Degree) Grand Larceny (3 rd and 4 th Degree) Coercion (2 nd Degree) o It is advisable to arrive at the courthouse as early as possible after 9 a.m. to file the petition. Although it may vary from county to county, women often are kept waiting 19

20 until the late afternoon to see a judge regarding their application for a temporary order of protection. Early arrival at the courthouse increases the likelihood that the application for a temporary order of protection will be heard before the court s 1:00 p.m. lunch recess. What information should the petition include? o Any and all allegations of physical, mental, and emotional abuse along with any allegations of threats, mental illness or drug abuse o The relationship of the respondent to the petitioner to establish standing o The name of each child in the household and that child s relationship to each party o A request for an order of protection o A description of any aggravating circumstances o A description of any related cases or any other proceedings which involve the same acts described Step 2: Seeing the judge o When the petition is complete, it is sent to a courtroom called the intake part. The petitioner (with or without her attorney) will make a brief appearance before a judge and request a temporary order of protection. She will be asked a few questions about the allegations that she signed off on. She must be very clear as to the temporary relief she seeks. For example, if she wants to have the abuser excluded from the home or prohibit his interference with custody of the children, or to refrain from texting or ing her, she or her attorney must tell the judge this specifically. o The return date is the date when the petitioner and respondent must both return to court and the Judge decides whether a permanent order of protection should be granted. The petitioner must provide proof of service upon the respondent by submitting the Affidavit of Service that she was provided by the clerk. o Where filings occur after hours, those matters are referred to the criminal court for handling the request for a temporary order of protection. Thereafter, the matter is returned to the Family Court. Pursuant to FCA 154-b, an order of protection must plainly state the date that it expires. A temporary order of protection will expire on the return date or adjourn date of the petition and usually will be renewed at each successive court date on the same terms until the case is completed. Step 3: Petitioner must pick up the Family Offense Petition, Summons sheet and Temporary Order of Protection from Court Action Processing Unit (CAP Unit/CAPU). Step 4: How to serve the opposing party o After the court determines what temporary relief will be granted, a return court date will be scheduled. The petitioner will be given the Temporary Order of Protection, a copy of the Summons and Family Offense Petition, and a blank Affidavit of Service. She also will be given an instruction sheet describing how service must be made. Note, the court may also inform her that they have asked the Sherriff to effectuate service on her behalf. Be sure to clarify with your client what she was told at the CAP Unit. FCA 826 provides that unless a warrant has been issued, the summons and petition shall be served by personal delivery to the respondent at least 24 hours before the return court date. NOTE: Personal delivery to the respondent is required. This is not the same thing as personal service under CPLR 308, 20

21 which permits, among other things, substituted service, i.e., the leaving of court papers with a person of suitable age and discretion at a party s home or business. Anyone who is over the age of 18 and not party to the action may serve the respondent and then fill out the Affidavit of Service. o If she elects to have the police serve, they are mandated to serve Orders of Protection and any related papers. It is advisable for the petitioner to go directly to the police precinct to have her papers served. She can ask to speak to the Domestic Violence Liaison Police Officer who can assist her with setting up service and any other concerns she may have. She should get contact information so that she can retrieve the NYPD proof of service (Statement of Personal Service) prior to her return date. o Where court issues a warrant, instead of a summons, the court issues a certificate of warrant. FCA 827 provides that a petitioner may not serve a warrant, unless granted express permission to do so by the court. The court can issue to the petitioner a certificate stating that a warrant for the respondent has been issued by the court. A police officer, upon being presented with such a certificate of warrant, is authorized to arrest the respondent (FCA 827, 168). The certificate of warrant expires 90 days from the date of issue, but may be renewed as necessary by the clerk of the court. It is very important that the Family Offense Petition, Summons and Temporary Order of Protection be served on the Respondent as soon as possible because the Temporary Order of Protection only goes into effect after the Respondent is given notice. o If after reasonable efforts, the respondent cannot be served, a Motion for Alternate Service can be made. Usually, you can bring an Affidavit of Attempted Service to the court setting forth efforts to locate the respondent, and orally ask the court to grant alternate service, avoiding having to prepare a formal written motion. Step 5: What to bring to the return date o File a Notice of Appearance at the court if you have not done so already. You can prepare one in advance or fill out the Notice of Appearance form that is located either on the table in the courtroom or given to you by the court officer. o The Petitioner should arrive promptly at the set date and time of the return date. o The Affidavit of Service: If the court accepts the Affidavit of Service or NYPD Statement of Personal Service, the court will note the case as issue joined which means that the court has satisfactory proof that the Respondent was properly served with notice to appear in court. Please ensure that the Affidavit of Service is properly completed and notarized, as required if served by someone other than a police officer. o o Any physical evidence of the abuse including photographs of injuries, police reports, hospital records, threatening letters, etc.). o Any adult(s) who witnessed the abuse and would be willing to tell the Judge what they saw. Step 6: What happens on the return date 21

22 o The return date is the next court date. The first return date after the petitioner files the case is called the return of process or sometimes, first appearance. At the first return date, the petitioner must prove that proper service was made on the respondent. Scenario 1: Adjournment or Consent o At the return date both parties are afforded the right to speak on their behalf. They will also be asked if they wish to have an attorney and if they can t afford one, court will appoint an 18-b panel attorney paid for by the state assuming that the person is financially eligible for this type of assignment. This usually means that the case will be adjourned for the respondent to either obtain his own counsel or meet his assigned counsel on the return date. o Important Consideration: Either a Judge or Court Attorney Referee (Referee) is empowered to hear a request for an order of protection. In certain cases, you may want to have your case heard by a Judge instead of a Referee. You will have an opportunity to tell a Referee that your client wishes to be heard by a Judge. You will not, however, have control over which Judge the case is put in front of, so it is very important that you check in with your Her Justice mentor prior to appearing in court to determine the best course of action to take based on the facts of your client s case. o At the return date, the respondent may elect to consent to an order or protection at which time the Judge will give the petitioner a final order of protection either for one or two years. The respondent s consent to an order of protection has the same effect as if she were to give testimony at a hearing and were the Judge to find that he committed a family offense. Note, however, where a consent is entered, the Respondent is not admitting or denying any specific allegations she made in the Family Offense petition. Therefore, there are no findings on the record that he committed a family offense. o Expect that if the Respondent is willing to consent, but he does not have counsel, that a Court Attorney in cases where the matter is before a Judge, will conference the case with the parties. Note, at no time, should you give advice to an unrepresented party as to consequences of entering a consent order. Scenario 2: Respondent s Default o If the respondent does not appear on a return date, so long as the court has proof that he has been served, the judge may make a decision (on default) without respondent s presence, order a new return date or issue an arrest warrant for the respondent. Where possible, advocate that the court accept proof of service as a sufficient basis to mark the case as issue joined. o Ask for an inquest to be conducted. An inquest is a one-sided hearing where your client testifies as to the allegations she made in her petition. You will conduct a direct examination and the court may also ask questions of your client prior to making their determination of whether she is entitled to an order of protection. If the court is satisfied that your client has proven that a family offense occurred, then the client will be granted an Order of Protection on Default. The length of time is generally no longer than two years. Scenario 3: Hearing/Trial 22

23 o If the respondent does not consent, the judge will adjourn the case for either a conference to gather more facts from the parties or a fact-finding hearing (ortrial) to determine whether the Respondent has committed a family offense. Prior to the conclusion of every court appearance, be sure to get the temporary order of protection extended until the next court date and get copies of the order in the CAP Unit. If the client needs additional relief in the temporary order of protection, you can make an oral application for additional relief to be included. You should be prepared to state the reasons why the client needs the additional relief. What happens at a fact-finding hearing o At the fact-finding hearing (or trial) the petitioner can show evidence of abuse through witnesses, photographs and reports and the respondent can defend himself with his own evidence, testimony and witnesses. o The judge (or referee) decides the case without a jury. Step 7: How to prepare for the hearing o Develop a Theory of the Case o Identify the Elements of the Case o Review the Court File o Gather Evidence subpoena documents with proper certification and delegation of authority forms o Subpoena witnesses if necessary o Make a Demand for Verified Bill of Particulars when the batterer has filed a petition or cross-petition against your client and the allegations are not specific enough for your client to understand and defend against. You can file a motion to dismiss the entire petition for lack of specificity. o Prepare the client for Direct Examination and prepare your client for cross-examination by the opposing party o Identify and Prepare Any Witnesses If you are expecting a case to go to trial, try to anticipate how many witnesses and how much time you will need for their testimony so the court can estimate how much time to set aside for your trial. In addition, before setting down trial dates, make sure to contact your witnesses to assess their availability for testimony. Inquire about their work schedules, appointments and planned vacations to avoid scheduling conflicts. You may need to subpoena a witness so that they can be excused from work or be compelled to come to the court date. If a witness fails to appear, the court may adjourn so they can appear or issue a warrant. 23

24 Prepare your witness for their testimony well before the court date. Ensure that your witness is available to be called at any time, unless you are given a time certain. In the event that your client works or lives a short distance from the courthouse, you can inform the judge that you have a witness on call who can be in court within a half hour and for a recall of the case or offer to start with another witness while waiting. o Prepare Exhibits and Evidence o Prepare Cross Examination of the Respondent o Serve the opposing party or his counsel with a Demand for Witness List, Demand for Expert List, and a Demand for Documents to be used at Trial. (CPLR 3101) This will give you an idea of the opposing party's plan of action at trial. o Prepare a Closing Statement Note: See Her Justice Order of Protection Manual for more information What will the final order look like? o A final order of protection may set forth reasonable conditions of behavior to be observed by the abuser/respondent, as described in FCA 842. The final order of protection may be effective for any duration up to two years. Most courts issue final orders of protection that are effective for two years from the date of issuance. A final order of protection may be effective for any duration up to five years if the court finds aggravating circumstances or if the court has found that the respondent has violated an order of protection. Aggravating circumstances must be proven specifically and found by the Court on the record as a basis for the issuance of a final order of protection for any duration in excess of two years. Aggravating circumstances include: physical injury to the petitioner the use of a dangerous instrument against the petitioner a history of repeated violations of prior orders of protection prior convictions for crimes against petitioner exposure of any family or household member to physical injury like incidents and behavior which constitute an immediate and ongoing danger to the petitioner or household members What if my client is the respondent? o Often an abuser will pursue an order of protection, either in retaliation for an order she sought or is seeking against him, or to further harass her through the court system. o Make sure your client knows to call you immediately if she is arrested so that you may advocate on her behalf immediately with the police and the District Attorney s office and help to find her a criminal attorney, if necessary. 24

25 o If your client does not have an order of protection herself, and the abuser s actions against her warrant one, you should work with her to file her own family offense petition immediately, following the practices outlined in this manual. She can file her own family offense petition, or file a cross-petition or counter-claim in response to the abuser s petition. Be aware, however, that filing a counter-claim instead of a petition will not give your client the chance to obtain an immediate temporary order of protection for herself. Locating a Defendant after Arrest If an adverse party is arrested, he/she will be processed through the Criminal Justice System. This is an automated system where the caller is prompted to input the defendant s name and date of birth. To obtain information about the release of an offender, who has been sentenced to incarceration, dial 1(888) VINE4NY ( ). For more detailed information on Order of Protection cases, please see Her Justice s Order of Protection manual entitled Representing Survivor s of Domestic Violence in Family Offense Proceedings. 25

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