In New York State, cases involving custody, visitation and support may be heard in Family Court. If the parties are married, those issues may also be heard in Supreme Court in connection with a divorce action. Additionally, the Family Court hears cases involving child neglect and Orders of Protection in between any “family member” as defined by the statute. Family Court was created by the New York State Legislature under the Family Court Act.
The Supreme Court has general jurisdiction, meaning that it can hear most types of cases. The Supreme Court derives its jurisdiction from the New York State Constitution, as opposed to state law. Although the Supreme Court can hear the same issues that the Family Court can, many feel that the procedures are more difficult to navigate. For example, in the Supreme Court, paperwork must be filed requesting a judge to be assigned to a case, whereas in Family Court, a judge is automatically assigned. Additionally, Family Court is well versed on family law issues because it does not hear other types of cases, and Family Court has statutory exceptions which are unavailable to those filing in the Supreme Court.