If you have had a child out of wedlock the Family Court is where you litigate issues concerning Paternity, Custody, Visitation, and Child Support. The family Court also handles cases brought by the county for child abuse, child neglect, and adjudications for juvenile delinquency (JD), and person in need of supervision (PINS).
When you have had a child out of wedlock and the father was not present to acknowledge paternity at the hospital, a paternity petition is required to be filed in the Family Court to establish parental rights for the father. If the mother wants child support from the father, paternity needs to be established before a child support order can be issued. Sometimes the County brings a paternity petition on behalf of the mother, when the mother is receiving public assistance, to obtain child support from the father. The County may also seek money from the father to pay for his share of the birth, if the mothers birth costs were paid by Medicaid.
It is important for parents that have a child out of wedlock to establish Custody. If the parents cannot agree, the Court will decide who gets custody based on what is in the "best interest of the child". There are three basic forms of custody for parents to choose from under NY Law.
Sole Custody gives a parent the right to make all decisions regarding the health, education, and welfare, and permits him or her to be the primary residential parent of the child. The other parent will have visitation with the child based on a particular schedule. If the parents agree, or the Court awards Sole Custody to one parent, it does not negate that parent's parental rights (this is a common misconception). The non-custodial parent will generally receive independent access to the health education and welfare records of the child and is free to bring a petition to change custody in the future if there has been a change in circumstances.
Joint Custody with a Primary Residential Designation, gives one parent the right to have the child primarily reside with him or her, but the decisions regarding the health, education, and welfare are shared between the parents.
Straight Joint Custody is where the parents share both physical custody and the decisions regarding the health, education, and welfare. Neither parent is the primary residential parent and the children spend about the same amount of time with each parent.
Visitation is an Order granted by the Family Court that describes the schedule that the non-custodial parent sees the child. Typically the schedule will include alternate weekend visits, one day during the week after school, and holidays. The schedule is usually designed around work schedules.
Child Support is the amount of money that the custodial parent receives from the non-custodial parent. The amount paid comes from the Child Support Standards Act (CCSA). Additional Support may be paid for healthcare insurance premiums, uninsured medical costs, and daycare costs. Below is a link to my Child Support Calculator. Support may also be paid via an income deduction order.
Child Abuse Petitions under Article 10 of the Family Court Act are sometimes brought by the Departement of Social Services against parents that are acused of Child Abuse. The charges may lead to a termination of parental rights, and may cause separate criminal charges to be brought by the District Attorney. A non-abusing parent often faces Neglect, for failing to take the necessary steps to protect the child from the abusing parent.
Neglect Petitions under Article 10 of the Family Court Act are sometimes brought by the Departement of Social Services against parents that are acused of Child Neglect. The charges may lead to a termination of parental rights. Typically neglect petitions stem from poor living conditions, failure to protect the child from abuse, educational neglect, and child obesity.
Petitions against children for Juvenile Delinquency are sometimes brought against children for the crimes they commit by the county. Although it can often be avoided, childlen can sometimes be placed in Juvenile Detention Centers for a period of time up until the age of 18. Sometimes the crime is of a severity necessary to charge them as an adult.
Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) petitions are often brought by the Department of Social Services that are instituted by a parent claiming that a child is unruly at home and does not respond to discipline. Typically the Court puts services in place to address the root causes of the unruliness, or in some cases places the child in a Juvenile Facility.
A family offense petition can be filed against another family member to obtain an Order of Protection if the family member committed one of the following acts against another family member. For the purpose of filing a family offense petition, "family members" are defined as individuals related by blood or marriage, individuals who were formerly married, or individuals who are unrelated but have a child together.
Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Court is a court that may consolidate several domestic violence related cases to prevent domestic violence victims from having to appear in several different courts. This generally occurs when there is a family offense petition pending in family court, and there is also a criminal case pending in criminal court. The consolidation will prevent conflicting orders of protection from being issued in various courts.