This article is by Steve Raiser, a very well known NYC Criminal Attorney, whose a former Prosecutor, and also a premier divorce attorney. When a couple decides to divorce, it affects the entire family. During divorce proceedings, many other family issues may arise and need to be sorted out in court. Family court is the platform in which these issues are addressed. Below is an overview of family court and the types of cases heard there.
Family court deals with anything that related to domestic or familial relationships. The primary goal of the family court system is to provide a stable home environment if possible. If children are involved, their best interest is always put ahead of other issues. When a married couple decides to end their marriage, it can affect their children in a negative way.
Child custody is decided in family court. The court must decide which parent should have primary custody of the children or if the parents are able to work out a joint custody agreement. When parents are unable to make decisions together regarding their children, the court will grant one parent primary custody. If possible, the non-custodial parent will receive visitation rights. Each family situation is unique and the court will work out the best arrangement for the children.
If there is a question during a divorce regarding paternity, the case will be heard in family court. The judge will order a paternity test, decide parenting time and establish child support.
Child support is money the non-custodial parent pays to the parent who has primary custody of the children. This money is designated for the needs of the children such as food, clothes, school supplies and medical bills. Child support is decided in family court separate from divorce proceedings in most states. The court also monitors parents who are required to pay support for compliance. Those who do not pay their child support as designated by the court, may face driver license suspension or jail time.
If domestic violence is an issue during a marriage or divorce, it is handled in family court. The law is designed to keep people safe when the situation between couples is volatile. Unfortunately, a divorce can exacerbate an already difficult situation. When one party feels threatened by the other, they can petition the court for help. In many cases, this means petitioning the court for a restraining order which is also known as a protective order. To obtain this document, the party who fears for their safety files a document asking the court to issue the order. The court reviews the petition and decides whether or not to grant the order. If a temporary order is granted, both parties must appear in court at time set forth by the clerk of courts to determine things such as:
- If Contact Is Allowed Between The Couple
- Who Remains In The Family Home
- Arrangements For Personal Items To Be Retrieved
- Whether Referrals To Counseling Or Anger Management Should Be Made
If a restraining order is issued and it is not honored by the offending party, the court can recommend discipline such as arrest. The primary goal of the court in domestic violence cases is to keep families and children safe from harm until things calm down between a divorcing couple.
Family court is very busy and handles most domestic issues. If you are divorcing and need help navigating the legal process in family court, you may benefit from speaking with an attorney. An experienced family law attorney can represent you during this trying time and help you make difficult decisions that affect your entire family for years to come.