Family Court

The Family Court Division plays a critical role in promoting the well-being of the City's children and protecting the general public.  You can read more about the Family Court Division on the Division's website.

The Family Court Division consists of two units:

The Interstate Child Support Unit appears on behalf of out-of-state custodial parent petitioners who are seeking to establish paternity and obtain child support from New York City residents. In addition, a custodial parent who lives in New York City may seek the Unit's assistance in filing for child support from parents who live outside the state and the country.

Attorneys in the Family Court Division's Interstate Child Support Unit primarily handle child support petitions filed under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) by out-of-state jurisdictions or custodial parents residing in other states, U.S. Commonwealths, and many foreign countries. Staff also assist many New York City residents in obtaining paternity and child support orders.

The Juvenile Delinquency Prosecution Unit investigates and prosecutes, where appropriate, juvenile delinquency matters that are referred to our office or removed from the Youth Part to the office. Juvenile delinquency matters involve youth ages 7 to 16 who have been arrested for conduct that would constitute a crime if they were adults.

In prosecuting juvenile delinquency cases, the Family Court Division's Juvenile Delinquency Prosecution Unit seeks to ensure that those youth who commit delinquent acts are held accountable for their misconduct and receive appropriate services. The Family Court system is focused on rehabilitation. The Law Department seeks to balance the need for protection of the community with the needs and the best interests of the youth. The Division's work also includes providing information to victims of youth crime on available community-based services, including counseling, crisis intervention, and safety planning.  Some of the Division's cases involve young children who have been victimized.

In 2018, the Family Court Division handled more than 2800 juvenile delinquency referrals and approximately 3400 new Interstate Child Support cases.

What New Attorneys Do

First-year attorneys in the Family Court Division’s Juvenile Delinquency Unit will appear in court virtually every day. They are responsible for all aspects of the prosecution of juveniles accused of acts that would constitute a crime if committed by an adult. This means preparing cases from beginning to end. A typical first-year attorney’s tasks include: (1) interviewing victims, civilian witnesses and police officers during the investigation stage of the case, (2) drafting depositions and accusatory petitions, (3) preparing and conducting pre-petition detention hearings, which determine whether the juvenile be kept in the custody of the Department of Youth and Family Justice pending the fact-finding hearing, (4) preparing and conducting pre-trial hearings to determine the admissibility of physical evidence and confessions; (5) preparing and conducting fact-finding hearings (similar to trials in adult criminal cases), which determine whether the juvenile committed the acts alleged, and (6) preparing and conducting dispositional hearings (similar to the sentencing phase in adult criminal cases), where it is determined what services the juvenile who has been found to have committed the alleged conduct should receive and whether the juvenile requires placement outside of the community. The Family Court Division is perfect for attorneys who want a fast-paced environment, who want to work in a team atmosphere and who have a passion for criminal justice and criminal procedure issues.

What Summer Interns Do

Interns in the Family Court Division prepare misdemeanor cases at various stages of the proceeding(s). Summer interns assist in and conduct interviews with complainants and law enforcement personnel with the goal of drafting accusatory petitions. Summer interns appear in Family Court to conduct pre-petition detention hearings (where a decision is made whether to hold the accused in custody pending the outcome of the case), arraignments, court conferences, evidence suppression hearings, fact-finding hearings (at which guilt or innocence is established) and dispositional hearings (where the court determines the appropriate penalties or services to be provided.) Interns can argue on the record in Family Court, under the supervision of an attorney, pursuant to a student practice order.

Read the Law Department's Annual Reports for More Information about the Family Court Division