After Divorce Do I Go Back To Supreme or Family Court For Modification Or Enforcement

After a Judgment of Divorce, whether to go back to Supreme Court or to file in Family Court often depends on what type of case it will be, how many issues are there, how fast do you need a decision made, whether you want to be in a less busy court and can afford to hire an attorney and finally whether the type of case you have can even be filed in Family Court. This blog can only give some basic concepts as there are always exceptions and also strategy as to which Court may be preferable.

Initially, it is important to know that Family Court can only hear certain types of cases where Supreme Court is a "court of general jurisdiction" so they can hear anything between people that were married and are now divorced. Family Court is the only Court for people who were not married. Family Court has Magistrates for child support issues and Judges for custody issues. Two different judges if you have both types of cases. However, in Supreme Court one judge decides all the issues in one case. If the issues involve property or monies not paid for equitable distribution of assets, or marital debts the case can only be heard in Supreme Court.

In Family Court child support modifications are routinely handled and can proceed fairly quickly, unless you need more thorough disclosure that can only be obtained by document production, subpoena and possible depositions. If the discovery issues will be complicated you may be better off in Supreme Court because your attorney does not need to get permission to engage in discovery. If you desire a speedy result and the facts are clear Family Court will be better. If you need an order for a wage garnishment and you want the money paid through the Support Collection Unit it is easier in Family Court. If there are violations of support due to non-payment, Family Court can provide a faster hearing and determination.

Custody modifications can be brought in either court. Supreme Court is generally not as busy, the Judges have law clerks that can help conference the case, the attorney for the child is sometimes not as busy as the attorney for the child in Family Court. In Supreme Court when an Order To Show Cause for a modification is filed the other side must submit their written opposition and provide some of their proof. In Family Court the Petition does not require a written answer instead only an appearance is required. So in Supreme Court there are more documents generally produced. It is hard to say which Court is faster on custody matters as they are often complex and complicated.

If you have a case with both child support and custody/visitation issues then Supreme Court is usually better because you have one case before one judge covering all of the issues. In Family Court you might not always have matching dates for the two cases, there could be different attorneys involved and it is generally a busier court so there may be more case management due to the schedules of two judges.

If you are considering retaining an attorney you should be guided by your attorney's advice as there are nuances and exceptions to the above general thoughts, which are mine alone and in part based on my preferences.