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Family Defense Resources
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In New York, the right to assigned counsel for parents and other adults in family law cases is more expansive than many other states. In general, the constitutional principles of due process and equal protection under law mandate that counsel is provided when the state acts in a way that inhibits or eliminates the legal bond between a child and her parents (foster care or termination of parental rights). But New York provides assigned counsel to those who cannot afford to retain counsel in any matter where “fundamental interests and right, including the loss of a child’s society…” are threatened. NY Family Court Act 261. As a result, assigned counsel for adults is provided in matters that include child custody and visitation, abuse or neglect allegations, termination of parental rights, adoption, paternity proceedings, family offense proceedings, and matters where a parent is accused of willful violation of a child support order. Most of this representation occurs in Family Court proceedings, but is also permitted in Surrogate’s and Supreme Court matters.

NYSDA provides information helpful to lawyers and the parents or other adult respondents they represent in Family Court. That information is distributed through NYSDA publications, and provided to attorneys through trainings, consultations, and this website. Since NYSDA (the Backup Center) has been providing support to attorneys who represent parents for many years and also keeps abreast of advances in representation and expert testimony nationwide, callers can request very specific information that is tailored to their questions and needs by calling the Backup  Center. In addition to the material below that is specific to family law practice, materials under Public Defense Issues and Positions and Studies, under Our Work, may relate to Family Court practice. Archived material may be found at Reports & Studies under NYSDA History in About Us. Other information relevant to family defense issues or cases may appear in areas of the website from one or more of the Special Projects and Legislation. There are a myriad of complications and considerations for anyone involved in Family Court proceedings who is also not a US citizen. The Regional Immigration Assistance Centers described at Criminal Immigration Resources are also a resource for attorneys delivering representation in Family Court.


Publications of Interest

Links of Interest

New York Laws, Regulations, Court Rules, and Policy Directives

NYS Agencies

NYS Providers of Parent Representation

National Public Defense/Parental Defense Organizations

Federal Agencies

Parent Support Groups



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