You must first file a petition (pe-TI-shun). A petition is when you ask the judge to make a decision about something. The person who starts a case is called the petitioner. The person on the other side is called the respondent. The petitioner and the respondent are called the parties.
How to Start a Case in Bronx Family Court
How do I start a Family Court case?
What cases are heard in Family Court?
- Abuse or Neglect of Children
- Child Support
- Guardianship/Standby Guardianship
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Order of Protection or OP
- Paternity – Order of Filiation
- PINS (Persons In Need of Supervision)
- Spousal Support
- Voluntary Placement of Child into Foster Care
When should I get to court?
The earlier you get to court the better because you might not have to wait as long to get everything done. Try to get there by 8:00 am. You will probably have to wait on a long line to go through a metal detector.
Where is the court located?
The Bronx Family Court is located at 900 Sheridan Avenue, at the corner of 161st Street.
Where do I go when I get to court?
- To begin a case about child support for children who ARE on public assistance (welfare), you must go to the Manhattan Family Court (60 Lafayette Street, between Franklin and Leonard streets), Room 1C on the 1st floor. This is the petition room for the Child Support Enforcement Term. Everyone who lives in New York City and has children on public assistance goes there. You will know that the children in the case are on public assistance if your case title looks like this:
City of New York o/b/o [mother’s name] v. [father’s name]
- To begin a child support case for children who live in the Bronx and are NOT on public assistance, go to the Support Collection Unit (SCU) on the 1st floor.
- To get an order of protection (OP), go to the Petition Room 7-70 on the 7th floor. An OP is a paper from a judge that makes rules about contact between people. You can file for an OP when you believe that a family member or the parent of your child might hurt you. The petition for an OP is called a family offense petition. The judge will see you the day you file for an OP. The judge may give you a temporary order of protection (TOP). The TOP usually lasts until the next court date. For more information, see the Family Legal Care guide, “Orders of Protection.”
If you want someone to help you file for an order of protection, go to Safe Horizon in Room 6E-38 on the 6th floor.
- To voluntarily (vol-un-TAYR-i-lee) place a child in foster care, go to New York City Children’s Services (which used to be called the Administration for Children’s Services or ACS), which is located at 2501 Grand Concourse, 4th floor. Voluntarily means you agree to it.
- To bring a PINS (Persons in Need of Supervision) petition against a child who is under the age of 18, go to 220 E. 161 Street, 2nd floor. For more information on PINS, see the Family Legal Care guide, “The PINS Process.”
- For all other cases, go to the Petition Room 7-70 on the 7th floor, and tell the clerk what kind of petition you want to file.
What happens next?
When I go back to court, what should I bring?
Bring a copy of your petition and the notarized Affidavit of Service. Also, bring any other documents that may be important to your case, such as birth certificates, old court orders, photographs, police reports, receipts, bank statements, and school records.
Try not to bring your children to court. The courthouse has a Children’s Center, but you can only leave your child there while you are in the courtroom. If possible, leave your children at home with a babysitter. The Children’s Center is on the 7th floor of the courthouse. The Children’s Center is run by an organization called Safe Horizon.
Am I allowed to bring a lawyer?
Yes. If you do not have money for a lawyer, you may be able to get the court to appoint one for you for free. Usually the court will not appoint a lawyer when you go to court for a child support case.
When I go back to court, where should I go?
What if I cannot attend my court date?
What happens when my case is called?
What happens when the case is complete?
The judge may issue an order. An order is a decision made by the court. You should make copies of the order and keep them in a safe place. If you are issued an order of protection, you may want to keep it on you at all times.
What happens if I do not follow a court order?
You must obey court orders. Before you leave court, make sure you understand exactly what is expected of you so you can comply with the order. Comply means do what the order says. You can be held in contempt of court – and even arrested – for violating (VY-o-lay-ting) a judge’s order. Violate means not follow the rules.
How long does the order last for?
If it is a final order, it stays in effect until a new case is brought to court that changes the order or a specific date or event occurs that ends it. If it is a temporary order, it is good until a certain time – usually until the next court date.
What if I disagree with the judge’s decision?
If you disagree with a judge’s decision, you may appeal. An appeal is when you ask to have a higher court review (look at) your case. For more information on appealing a court decision, go to the office of the clerk in Room 8-10 on the 8th Floor. Also, see the Family Legal Care guide, “Appealing Family Court Orders.”