Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) is now Family Legal Care
Family Legal Care to Continue Providing Unrepresented Litigants in New York State Family Court with Free Legal Services for Child Support, Custody and Visitation, Parentage, Guardianship and Domestic Violence
NEW YORK, NY (Sept. 13, 2022) – Today, Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) reintroduced itself as Family Legal Care.
A free legal services provider committed to reducing legal barriers and preparing New York parents and caregivers to self-advocate in court, Family Legal Care provides the legal advice and resources needed to navigate New York State Family Court without an attorney.
The Family Court system’s impact on New Yorkers is profound. At least 600,000 petitions are filed annually and over 80% of families come to court without a lawyer. Due to decades of underfunding, Family Court is overburdened and under-resourced. Unrepresented litigants are dealing with issues with incredibly high stakes — including child support, custody and visitation, and domestic violence. Case outcomes could decide whether in a parent has enough child support money to put food on the table or provide a safe place for their child to live.
“For more than two decades, our legal team has been an instrumental safety net for underserved and unrepresented New Yorkers experiencing critical, often time-sensitive family matters in a complicated, confusing court system,” said Cathy Cramer, CEO of Family Legal Care. “Our name may be new, but our mission is the same. Family Legal Care is proud to continue empowering parents and caregivers as they pursue the stability, safety and justice their families deserve.”
People of color comprise the majority of Family Court litigants and experience disproportionate harm due to the historic inadequacies and inequalities of the legal system. Last year, nearly 3 in 4 Family Legal Care clients identified as Hispanic/Latinx and Black/African American. More than 60 percent of Family Legal Care clients reported a yearly income of $25,000 or less.
Since 1996, the staff and volunteers at Family Legal Care have been supporting New York families regardless of economic status, background or identity. To reach a maximum number of impacted New Yorkers, Family Legal Care utilizes a limited-scope representation model — connecting more than 25,000 people each year with the specific tools, resources, and legal strategy they need to navigate and represent themselves in court. Legal support at critical junctures goes a long way in making the court process more efficient and effective.
When litigants lack the legal knowledge and skills to understand and manage the system, it often leads to extended delays in court proceedings. These delays disrupt children’s lives and mental well-being. As families wait in limbo until their cases are resolved, children may not be permitted to see their other parent, enroll in school, travel, obtain a passport or visa, or access government benefits that reduce hunger and economic insecurity. FLC believes these issues are crucial to a family’s wellbeing and to the overall health of our society.
“Supporting families as they navigate Family Court is critical to helping ensure strong communities,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “For decades, Family Legal Care has provided free legal services to underrepresented New Yorkers and empowered them to advocate for themselves. Family Legal Care’s new name reflects their longstanding commitment to providing families with accessible legal services and vital resources. The Council is proud to be supporters of their important work and will continue to invest in stability and justice for New York City’s families.”
“Family Legal Care – formerly known as LIFT — has played an important role in providing families all across New York City with resources, information, and support navigating the family court system,” said New York City Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala. “Family Legal Care has spent the last 27 years guiding families through the process and making sure they’re well equipped to tackle the challenges the system throws at them.”
“Family Legal Care has a new name, but they will still provide the same premier legal services to New York parents and caregivers. Too many families appear before the Family Court system without representation. Family Legal Care has been an important partner for many years in serving constituents, and I am proud to have supported them with budget allocations,” said City Council Member Gale A. Brewer.
“By providing legal information and advice to anyone in need, Family Legal Care plays a vital role in helping to secure the safety and security of thousands of the most vulnerable families and children in New York City often when they are at a time of crisis,” said William Silverman, Partner at Proskauer and Family Legal Care Board Member. “This vital role, however, goes beyond helping individuals because the Court itself, under-resourced and over-extended while still reeling from the pandemic, is also experiencing a time of crisis. By serving so many litigants, by championing technology, by serving as a bridge to the private sector, and by advocating for change, Family Legal Care plays an essential role in helping to secure equal access to justice.”
“Fried Frank is proud to partner with Family Legal Care to provide access to legal advice to New Yorkers facing Family Court proceedings with no counsel,” said Jennifer Colyer, Special Counsel at Fried Frank. “Our associates find the work extremely rewarding, and through this project we’re able to assist many New Yorkers who face litigation over basic issues such as child support, visitation and custody. We are grateful to Family Legal Care attorneys for the excellent training and mentoring that makes it possible for attorneys in all areas of practice to handle this essential work.”’
As part of today’s announcement, Family Legal Care also unveiled an updated website designed to make it easier for clients and visitors to access the full breadth of legal information and resources, including:
- Family Law Navigator, a secure, mobile-friendly tool that walks individuals through their questions about Family Court, allowing users to customize the information they receive based on their situation, developed in partnership with Brooklyn Law School students and Neota Logic;
- easy-to-use 30- and 60-second video tutorials and walkthroughs designed to be accessible to people with different levels of education and comfort with technology; and
- online Legal Resource Guides in nine languages with step-by-step information on New York State family law and Family Court procedures; and
- a growing library of guided online court forms that users can securely access and then independently upload to the Family Court web portal.
Family Legal Care also launched a Tech Hub in 2021 near the Kings County Family Court in Downtown Brooklyn to help address the digital divide for clients who may not have access to technology, a reliable internet connection, or a private space. The Hub enables visitors to safely and confidently access computers and the internet to attend virtual court hearings and complete court forms — using provided scanners, printers and in-person technical assistance.
Learn more about Family Legal Care and its resources for New York families at www.familylegalcare.org.
About Family Legal Care
Family Legal Care was founded to increase access to justice in New York State Family Court by combining legal advice, easy-to-access technology, and compassionate support to help unrepresented parents and caregivers self-advocate on critical family law issues. We envision a world in which justice in New York State Family Court is attainable for everyone, fully and equitably — no matter who they are, where they live, or their economic status — because all families deserve the opportunity to create stability, security and emotional well-being. Visit www.familylegalcare.org for more information.