The Family Court Division plays a critical role in promoting the well-being of the City's children and protecting the general public. In prosecuting juvenile crime, the Family Court Division seeks to ensure that those who commit delinquent acts will be held accountable for their misconduct and afforded an opportunity for rehabilitation. The Division's work in the juvenile justice system also encompasses assisting victims of youth crime to secure ready access to a broad array of community-based services, including counseling, crisis intervention, and safety planning. In its civil practice, the Family Court Division aids families by bringing enforcement proceedings designed to obtain necessary financial support for children.
As the second-largest division at the Law Department, Family Court attorneys are responsible for handling some 15,000 cases annually. The Division's 80-plus attorneys, aided by 50-plus support personnel, are assigned to one of five borough offices across the City. Division attorneys litigate their own cases, from initial referral through discovery, settlement or trial, to final disposition. This vertical prosecution system ensures that attorneys develop a broad range of skills encompassing legal writing, research, and trial techniques.
Attorneys in the 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. The Unit attorneys also seek enforcement of existing child support orders against delinquent non-custodial parents by pursuing remedies such as contempt and violation orders, money judgments, and arrest warrants. Our staff assist many New York City residents in obtaining paternity and child support orders.
The Juvenile Delinquency Prosecution Unit, which houses the Major Case Unit and the Sex Offense Prosecution Unit, prosecutes juveniles accused of committing acts that would be crimes if they were adults. In cases where the Court finds guilt by plea or trial, attorneys then seek dispositions that balance juveniles’ needs and best interests with public safety concerns. Attorneys handle a wide variety of cases, including assaults, robberies, weapons possession, drug offenses, sex offenses, and homicides. Their courtroom skills are honed right from the start, with line assistants appearing in court under direct supervision soon after appointment.