Family Court is a specialized statutory court with limited jurisdiction. Erie County Family Court hears cases involving children and families in the areas of Custody and Visitation, Child Abuse or Neglect or the Termination of Parental Rights, Persons in need of Supervision (PINS), Juvenile Delinquents, Adolescent Offenders, Paternity, Child Support, Guardianship of Children (Kin Gap), Family Offenses, and Adoption of Children.
One Niagara Plaza, Buffalo, New York 14202
Hours of Operation
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Monday – Friday
THE ASSIGNED COUNSEL PROGRAM IN FAMILY COURT
The Assigned Counsel Program (further ACP) represents most people who qualify financially free of charge in the following areas of Family Court: Custody and Visitation; Child Abuse / Neglect or the Termination of Parental Rights; Adolescent Offenders; Paternity; Child Support; Family Offenses; and Adoption of Children.
When you bring a petition or are the respondent in a petition in any of the above-mentioned areas, you will receive a notice to appear in Court. At your first appearance the Court will advise you of your right to counsel and ask you if you can afford an attorney. If you tell the Court that you cannot afford an attorney you will be given a referral to ACP. The referral will direct you to call us at 716-856-8804 forty-eight hours after receiving your referral. When you call, you should follow the prompts on the phone. You will be interviewed financially by an ACP staff member and if you meet the financial guidelines for our services a highly qualified, well trained, and experienced private family law attorney will be assigned to your case.
Almost all matters in Family Court begin with the filing of a Petition. If you believe that you have a matter that should be heard in Family Court, there are a number of resources available to help you in filing your Petition.
You may go to the website www.nycourts.gov. This website contains copies of relevant petitions for matters of Custody and Visitation, Paternity, Child Support, and Family Offenses which you may download and fill out. Some Petitions in these areas are DIY and can be filled out online and then downloaded.
You may also go to Petition Processing on the Fourth Floor of the Erie County Family Court Building at One Niagara Plaza, Buffalo, NY 14202 where you can obtain a paper copy of the relevant Petition to fill out.
Additionally, there is a Help Desk in Family Court which is staffed by the Volunteer Lawyers Project in Room 428 of Erie County Family Court. The Help Desk operates Monday through Friday from 11:30 AM-2 PM. Free legal advice, including help with filling out your Petition, is available in this location.
All Petitions must be filed in Erie County Family Court on the Fourth Floor at Petition Processing. Before filing your Petition, you will be required to make five copies of the Petition which will be filed with the Court with your original Petition. There is no filing fee for Petitions filed in Family Court.
After your matter is filed in Family Court, the case will be assigned to an appropriate part of Court. You (the Petitioner) and the opposing party (the Respondent) will be notified by mail of your court date. The notice will include the part of court and the time at which you are scheduled to appear.
You should appear at Court at least fifteen minutes prior to your scheduled time. When you arrive, you will need to go to the sign in window for your part of Court and sign in. You will then be called into Court to see the Judge.