The New York State Supreme Court is a court of general jurisdiction, which means it hears various cases, including matrimonial cases. The family court in New York State is a court of limited jurisdiction. For instance, you cannot get a divorce in the family court, but only in the New York State Supreme Court. The family court can entertain cases dealing with custody, support spousal support and child support, order protections PINs, Persons In Need of Supervision, and guardianship. But if you want a divorce, you must file in New York State Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can entertain under its general jurisdiction anything related to a matrimonial proceeding. Still, the interesting dichotomy, as I’ve said, is you cannot get a divorce in the family court. However, there are times when you’ll find that you’ll be representing the same party having the case pending in the Supreme Court as well as in the family court.
What will then happen is generally one of the parties whose counsel will apply to the Supreme Court to consolidate the cases into the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to direct that the family court proceeding be transferred to the Supreme Court. The Family Court being a court of limited jurisdiction, cannot make an order directing that the Supreme Court action be transferred down to the family court. Interestingly enough, a third court sometimes gets involved with the matrimonial proceedings, the criminal court.
If, for instance, one spouse is a victim of abuse, the police are called, and an arrest is made, the criminal court can issue an order of protection. If there is a case pending in the Supreme Court, they can go down parallel roads. On occasion, what will happen is we have what’s called the Supreme Court IDV part, which means that one judge in a Supreme Court proceeding in the IDV part will consolidate all of the other cases that are pending between these parties so that you don’t get different decisions from different courts on the same set of facts. This way, one judge handles the abuse, divorce, custody, and support situations. This is how cases end up in various courts for the same reason.
Quite often, a party will go into the family court seeking immediate relief before they retain counsel. For example, suppose a spouse is abused, or there’s a problem with visitation, support, or custody. In that case, people tend to go into the family court because that court, to a great extent, handles what we call pro se litigants or individuals who represent themselves. Once they start a proceeding in the family court and then retain counsel, they will then go into the Supreme Court, and then there’s usually a consolidation.
When Couples Do Decide They Will Be Proceeding With The Divorce In New York, What Are The Options To Do So?
Many people who are about to embark upon the road of divorce will do some divorce planning. For example, suppose it is the moneyed spouse or the titled spouse, on many occasions. In that case, that spouse will begin trying to move money around in an attempt to conceal assets in anticipation of a divorce. Once a divorce action has started in New York, Automatic Orders will be put into place, which means you cannot move marital property around without the permission of your spouse or an order of the court.
On the other hand, the non-moneyed or non-titled spouse can do some planning. For instance, they may start making copies of all of the financial records that are in the home to give to their attorney, the aide, and the discovery process. Also, in anticipation of children involved, people start keeping logs of how they interact with each parent.
Then, we get to the point when one or both of the parties retain counsel. Generally, if they’re going to start a divorce action, there are a couple of alternatives. They can either create a divorce action by service of the summons and filing with the court. On many occasions, the attorney sends a notice that they want to attempt to resolve things amicably between the parties. There are also other methods to resolve a divorce situation in New York. For example, people go into mediation, and they go into collaborative law. Mediation is where there’s a mediator who can’t tell them what to do but tries to reach an agreement under various issues. That is invited in a contract, which becomes the basis for a divorce.
Collaborative law is where each party retains an attorney, and they negotiate to settle. One of the downsides to collaborative law is that the attorneys representing you in a collaborative proceeding agree that they will not represent you if they cannot resolve the case. So you must hire a new attorney to proceed with the divorce action, which draws added expense. Either the husband or wife may initiate the divorce for a variety of reasons. At the same time that a wife starts the action, if she is not the moneyed spouse and depends on the husband’s income to support the family, it might be necessary to start the action together to show cause seeking what we call pendente lite relief. This is a temporary relief during the pendency of the action so that the court can make an interim support award, temporary custody award, and temporary child support award.
If you represent the husband, you may want temporary relief in the form of visitation with the children because you’ve been denied access to children. The facts will dictate precisely what collateral action you will take aside from filing the summons and serving it on the adversary. Once the summons is served and filed, there are automatic orders put into place. Years ago, before that became the law, we had to go to court to apply to enjoin the other party from transferring assets. This saves a lot of judicial and legal time and puts a freeze on the assets.
For more information on Family Law in New York, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (212) 486-3200 today.