In our February 2019 issue, we examined the types of matters that Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction over (i.e. the types of cases that can only be heard in Family Court). As you may recall, Family Court has the power to hear many kinds of cases that go to the core the relationships between adults and children/parents.
But what kinds of powers does the Family Court have to address the cases that come before it? The answer to that question depends on the type of case that Family Court is asked to adjudicate, however, the most powerful tool in the Family Court toolbox comes in the form of the Orders that it can issue. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the types of Orders that can be issued by Family Court:
1. Order of removal – When there is an allegation of abuse and neglect of a child under Article 10 of the Family Court Act, the Family Court has the power to issue an Order temporarily removing the child(ren) from the home and placing the child(ren) in the care and custody of the Department of Children, Youth & Families (aka Child Protective Services). The removal of child(ren) from the home occurs when it is necessary to avoid “imminent risk to the child’s life or health.” The Order of removal can last as long as it takes for the Court to make a final determination in the abuse/neglect proceeding.
2. Order of filiation – When a paternity petition is brought, the Court has the power to direct the mother, alleged father and the child(ren) to submit to a DNA test and, if paternity is proven by such test, the Court can then issue an Order of Filiation and provide a copy of that to the NYS Department of Health (Vital Records) for purposes of adding the father to the child(ren)’s birth certificate.
3. Order of suspension – When a person who has a duty to pay child support pursuant to an Order of Support fails to do so, Family Court can direct any state agency that is responsible for issuing a license to suspend the professional, occupational, business and drivers’ license(s) of that person.
4. Order of commitment – When a person has willfully failed to pay his/her child support obligation as required by an Order of Support, Family Court can issue an order committing that person to a jail for a period of up to 6 months.
5. Order of protection – When a person alleges that a family offense has been committed pursuant to Article 8 of the Family Court, the Court has the power to issue an order of protection that prohibits a party from having certain contact or engaging in certain conduct with the other party. An Order of protection can be issued ex parte (which means “without notice” to one party) on a temporary basis and can be continued for the duration of the proceeding. When a final determination is made on a petition brought under Article 8, the Family Court can issue a final Order of Protection that lasts up to 2 years (or as long as 5 years if, for example, the Court also finds there were aggravating circumstances).
While this is not an exhaustive list of the type(s) of Orders issued by Family Court, it should give you a good sense of the kind of power Family Court wields and the significant impact this Court has on our community.
May 2019 Margaret Tabak