FAQs About Family Court

Questions about what happens in family court? Wondering whether that rumor you heard is true? Check here for some of our most frequently asked questions regarding family court proceedings. If there's a question you have that goes beyond what you see here, don't hesitate to call Lauren S. Cohen or send her an email. She is happy to answer any and all inquiries, no matter how small they may seem.

1. Do I really need an attorney in family court?

Nothing in the law requires a person to hire an attorney for family court matters. However, it is important to remember that a great deal is on the line. Family court matters can become extremely complex and you may risk losing custody of your children or having your visitation rights limited.

If you are not the biological or adoptive parent of the children, there are jurisdictional and evidentiary requirements that can be quite confusing. With an experienced New York Family Court attorney to represent your interests and concerns, you have the opportunity to seek a positive resolution to your case.

2. Is there a preference for either parent in custody proceedings?

No. The Domestic Relations Law and Family Court Act provide that there is no prima facie right to the custody of a child in either parent. If the parties cannot agree on custody, the court will make a determination based on the best interest of the children. This determination is premised on many factors; the gender of the parent is not one of those factors.

3. What is an initial consultation and why do I need one?

An initial consultation provides you with a wealth of information about your rights under New York law and an individual assessment of your case. While one can easily find general information, each family court situation is unique as the family. What applies to one family's situation will not necessarily apply to another's.

An initial consultation in our office generally lasts 30-45 minutes. During that time, we will assess your individual situation, answer all of your questions and concerns and you will leave knowing what to expect should you decide to proceed with your family court matter.

There is a modest consultation fee for Divorce/Family Law matters.

4. What do I need to show in order to seek visits with my grandchild?

New York law recognizes that grandparents are an important part of a child's life. In general, to seek visitation, a grandparent must show that they already have an established relationship with the child and that to continue that relationship is in the child's best interest.

Once the relationship is established, the courts generally presume that it is in the child's best interest to continue that relationship. The burden then shifts to the parent preventing visitation to show why continuing the relationship is not in the child's best interest.

5. Can I get court-ordered visitation with my great-grandchild, my siblings or my nieces and nephews?

No. New York provides standing (the right to bring an action) only for biological and adoptive grandparents.

6. I want to adopt my spouse's child. Is the biological parent's consent necessary?

As a general rule, parental consent to adoption is necessary. However, in certain instances, the court can rule that consent is not necessary and allow the adoption to proceed.

7. Do adoptions have to proceed through the Department of Social Services?

No. If the child is not involved with or in the custody of the Department of Social Services, the parties may begin a private adoption proceeding.

To speak with me, contact Binghamton law office at 607-821 -0100, 866-539-2596 or by completing an online contact form.