Family Court or Supreme Court Which Court Hears My Case

How come my divorce does not occur in the Family Court? This question is frequently asked as well as how do I know if my case belongs in the Family Court or Supreme Court.

In NY the only court that may grant a divorce and divide marital property is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has the authority to hear and determine nearly every type of case arising under NY State law. The Family Court is much more limited and is not permitted to grant or deny a divorce. There are areas in which both courts overlap. However, for people that were never married to each other, the Family Court is the only court that they may use for issues related to the children of the relationship.

For clients who are or were married, both courts may determine child support, custody and maintenance during the marriage as well as after the divorce. Each attorney and also based upon the circumstances of the case may have a preference whether to first seek child support and custody from the Family Court or the Supreme Court. However, once the divorce is started any new applications for child support or custody must go to the Supreme Court so that all issues will be decided by one judge. However, if the Family Court case was started before the divorce case, the Family Court may make the initial determination.

Orders of Protection are typically and almost exclusively handled in the Family Court even though the Supreme Court has the authority to make a determination. The reason for this is that the Family Court allows easier and quicker access to the court by people who do not have an attorney or need to make an immediate request for their safety.

There are many other differences between the courts. Please consult with our office to allow us to guide you in starting your case in the best manner.