NYS Senate Passes Felder Bill Expanding Family Court Hours

Simcha Felder

May 10, 2022

Today, the New York State Senate unanimously passed legislation (S3683-D) sponsored by Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) requiring New York City Family Court to remain open until midnight at least one day a week. Establishing a nighttime Family Court program has been a priority for Senator Felder and is seen as a major step in helping address Family Court’s history of dysfunction and delays. Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal is the Assembly sponsor (A0739). 

“I am pleased to see this important legislation pass in the State Senate and I thank my colleagues for their support,” said Senator Felder. “For years, Family Court has been mired in a bureaucratic mess that prolongs a frightening and traumatic process for our city’s most vulnerable children and families. Offering Family Court night hours will finally help ease the significant burden they carry.” 

“The strain of navigating the complex bureaucracies of the New York Family Court system can be an overwhelming experience for adults, let alone powerless children,'' said Assemblymember Rosenthal. “The Senate’s passage of this legislation to offer Family Court night hours is a crucial step forward in ensuring overburdened families and children can remedy their unique circumstances as quickly as possible.” 

Ron Richer, CEO of JCCA, said, “The over-burdened family court—despite the best efforts of all who participate—extends court involvement, delays resolution, and limits the time judges have to make well-informed decisions on each matter before them.  Extending Family Court hours is a long-overdue, critically important step in stabilizing families, protecting children and fairly allocating resources to the most vulnerable, poorest New Yorkers, both in moments of crisis and when they are rebuilding their lives.” 

Family Court specializes in handling cases such as child custody, juvenile delinquency, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect. Sadly, despite handling some of the most vulnerable people who enter the justice system, Family Courts remain overburdened and under-resourced. While many courts in New York City remain open through the evenings, with some open until 1:00am, Family Courts regularly close at 5:00pm, adding an excessive challenge for working people, under-resourced families, and women and children at-risk. 

“It doesn’t make any sense that while other courts are open, children and families in desperate need aren’t shown the same concern in Family Court. The stakes could not be higher for parents and children appearing in Family Court and this important initiative would finally help address a great disparity for the many hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who pass through its doors every year,” concluded Senator Felder.