The Key Differences between Family Court and Supreme Court Cases

//The Key Differences between Family Court and Supreme Court Cases

The Key Differences between Family Court and Supreme Court Cases

Frequently when relationships start to falter, people begin to inquire as to what their rights are in court. Understanding the differences between what can be accomplished in Family Court and Supreme Court in New York is an important first step!

First of all, only married individuals can seek matrimonial relief in Supreme Court, which has exclusive jurisdiction over divorces and equitable distribution. Unmarried individuals with children in common or who live together with or without children can seek relief for issues in Family Court such as child support, custody and visitation and orders of protection.

That being said, people who are married (or have been divorced) do have a choice as to whether to file in Supreme Court for a divorce (or post judgment action) or to file in Family Court if they have just one issue that is important to them. Sometimes the decision to choose Family Court may be made in reaction to the actions of the other party, such as a quick decision to file for an order of protection.  Sometimes an individual wants money to support their children but does not want to file for a divorce either because they want to ultimately work things out or perhaps they are just not ready to call it quits on their marriage, but in the interim they have to feed their children.

Representation is an important factor in choosing which court you want your case to be heard in. Family Court is generally an easier venue in which an unrepresented individual may file because there are clerks available to help fill out the paperwork which is generally free of charge.  While not absolutely necessary, it is nonetheless desirable to have the advice and representation of an attorney in Family Court. Likewise, while hiring a lawyer for Supreme Court is not imperative and one can represent oneself (called “pro-se”) it is a much harder court to navigate than Family court.  Additionally, in order to have an issue heard by a Judge in Supreme Court one must first file and personally serve the opposing party and file a request for judicial intervention. In Family Court, the court personnel and/or the sheriff’s office will serve for you and your case may be heard sooner.

Family and Supreme courts also have different policies regarding who will hear your case. With issues such as custody and child support, a Family Court case may be in front of a magistrate or referee rather than a judge. Sometimes a party may want multiple issues heard. In Family Court they may be heard in front of different individuals, in different courtrooms on different days, whereas in Supreme Court, in the context of a divorce, all the issues will generally be heard in the same courtroom.

When making the decision whether to file in Family Court or Supreme Court, there is not necessarily a right or wrong decision. The best thing to do is to discuss the specific facts of your case and utilize the experience and skill of an attorney to help you decide what is ultimately best for you in your individual circumstances.

By | 2017-01-13T15:00:47+00:00 September 4th, 2015|Divorce Law|0 Comments

About the Author:

Deborah E. Kaminetzky
Deborah E. Kaminetzky is the founder of Kaminetzky Law & Mediation, P.C. located in Long Beach, New York. Prior to starting the firm Deborah worked at a Long Island firm where she learned the practice of Matrimonial and Family law and Estate Planning. Deborah has also worked at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs where she was responsible for prosecuting unlicensed home improvement contractors and negotiating settlements for consumers. Prior to practicing law, Ms. Kaminetzky was the president of a commercial property management corporation in the New York Metro area. Ms. Kaminetzky is a member of the National Association of Divorce Professionals, New York State Council on Divorce Mediation, Family and Divorce Mediation Council of Greater New York, New York State Bar Association (Business Law, Estate, Family Law, ADR and General Practice Sections), Nassau County Bar Association (where she serves as Chair of the General, Solo and Practice Management Committee and The Nassau County Women’s Bar Association. Ms. Kaminetzky was appointed to the Committee on Law Practice Management of the New York State Bar Association in 2015 and has been a frequent speaker and author of articles for their journal. Ms. Kaminetzky serves on the Board of Directors of the Yashar Attorney and Judges Chapter of Hadassah as a their Treasurer, and was their Woman of the Year 2012 and Leadership award honoree in 2019. Deborah graduated from New York Law School in 1991 and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1986. Ms. Kaminetzky was admitted to the First Department in 1991 and the United States Supreme Court Bar in February of 2015. Deborah is on the Matrimonial fee dispute arbitration panel for Nassau County. She expanded her alternative dispute resolution practice by completing a Mediation certificate program in December of 2013, an advanced Mediation certificate program in 2015 and most recently a Divorce Mediation certificate in early 2016 from The New York Peace Institute. Ms. Kaminetzky has spoken to various groups on topics including matrimonial law, technology and social media use, and disaster preparedness for business including cybersecurity.