The Supreme Court is the court of “supreme” jurisdiction. It is also the only court in New York that has the authority to grant a divorce, divide pensions and property. Unlike it’s name would imply, the Family Court has no authority to issue a divorce.
The Supreme Court has all the power of the Family Court, plus it determines the issues of property. When a couple is ready for the divorce, a complaint is filed in the Supreme Court. The judge in the New York Supreme Court has the authority to address all the issues of the divorce to include: child custody/visitation, child support, division of property, division of debt and any other issue regarding the final disposition of the marriage.
The divorce court judge is interested in final and global resolutions of all the issues. Unlike Family Court, the issues are not decided piecemeal but as a complete package. Any issue that may arise during the divorce can be dealt with by the divorce court judge. This is, as I describe in another posting, very different from Family Court.
In many counties, specific judges have been appointed to hear nothing but matrimonial cases. This assignment policy allows a judge to become very familiar with the ins and outs of divorce and family law. In a few counties, such as Nassau and Suffolk, the matrimonial judges hearing divorce cases, sit in separate “matrimonial centers.”
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