The New York Family Court is a specialized court dedicated to helping children and families dealing with child abuse, neglect, adoption and child custody. There are family courts in each county of the state, but the name of the family court within New York City was given the name New York City Family Court. This court only has jurisdiction over family matters, which are defined by New York law as being by blood, actual marriage, or if a family has a child in common. In these cases, you are able to bring the child’s or family’s concerns to the court.

New York’s History of Family Law

In 1824, the House of Refuge was established in New York in order to organize, fund, and establish a housing facility for troubled or delinquent juveniles as an alternative to jail. In the 1850s, over 30,000 homeless children in the city of New York sparked the Orphan Train Movement that eventually led to charity institutions for homeless and parentless children. Over 200,000 orphans were given homes at The Children’s Aid Society and The New York Foundling Hospital during this decade, leading to an improvement of their lives and those who hoped for them to receive the guidance they needed.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, policies were established to protect children from the hazardous conditions and strenuous lifestyle of child labor. They were expected to extend their childhoods by remaining dependent on their parents’ income and household duties until adulthood. Because of the extensive efforts of the Progressive Movement during this era of the Industrial Revolution, New York was able to protect the lives and health of children who would have otherwise fallen victim to the dangers of machinery and long work hours.

Later, the state went on to establish a juvenile court and handled its first juvenile delinquency case in 1932. In the late 1930s, more branches were established and more women were appointed to handle the Domestic Relations Court in order to help determine the outcome of cases with troubled children. In turn, more and more children were freed from the troubling lifestyles they witnessed at home and were given a better home with parental guidance.