State Bar creates task force to tackle Family Court crisis

An overwhelming rise of family court cases has prompted the New York State Bar Association to create a Family Court task force to find ways that the justice system can best handle the heavy caseload.

According to the bar association, family court filings in New York State reached a record high of nearly 750,000 last year, with filings related to family violence increasing 30 percent in the last two years. On average, it said, there are 4,601 filings for every judge.

The new task force, announced today, will study what and where more family court resources are needed, how to better manage cases and staff, how technology can make family court more efficient, among other improvements. A Broome County Family Court judge and a top state Legal Aid lawyer will lead the investigation.

“To thousands of New Yorkers, family courts are the face of our legal system but, unfortunately, with overcrowded dockets, too few judges, and far too many delays, these courts resemble hospital emergency rooms and our family law attorneys are forced to perform triage,” new bar association president Stephen P. Younger said in a statement.

“At the end of the process, we will have a road map that will set a course for us to finally address the most challenging problems and to create a family court system that can protect our children when they most need it,” he added.

Family courts deal with child custody and visitation issues, foster care, child abuse and neglect, among other related issues. A recent state report criticized overcrowded court facilities in Yonkers and New Rochelle. To read more on the problems in Yonkers and New Rochelle Family Court, click here.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.