Family Law Terms To Be Familiar With

Family Court:

This is where matters relating to family law and child custody decisions are decided.

Family Court:

This is where matters relating to family law and child cusLong Island family lawyertody decisions are decided.

Who May Seek Custody:

Under New York State law, a biological parent as well as other relatives such as stepparents, grandparents, or any individual who has established a substantial connection or relationship with a child, may seek custody. However, this does not mean that a non-parent will be awarded rights to a child.


A petitioner is an individual who files a petition requesting that the court grant visitation or custody.


The respondent is the individual whom a petition for custody or visitation is brought against.


When a formal petition is filed against a respondent, he or she has the right to file his or her own petition. This will provide the court with his or her account of the case.

Custodial Parent:

This is the parent who has custody of the child and has the right to reside with him or her. In addition, the custodial parent cares for the child on a day-to-day basis.

Non-custodial Parent:

This is the parent who does not live with a child.


This is the individual that is appointed to hear and decide the matter before them.

Law Guardian:

A Law Guardian or Attorney for the child is a lawyer that is responsible for representing the interest of the child. A Law Guardian is assigned by a court of law and is a neutral party. A Law Guardian has considerable influence involving family law matters.

Assigned 18B Attorney:

According to the Family Court Act, if an individual is unable to retain an attorney due to financial hardship, he or she must be assigned a lawyer at no expense.

Court Referee:

This refers to an individual who has the authority to approve a mutually agreed upon decision. He or she may also determine a case upon referral by a judge.

Law Clerk:

This refers to an individual with a law degree who researches and analyzes questions of law and provides a recommendation to the judge based on his or her findings.

If you have questions regarding divorce, custody of a child, or visitation of a child, contact the Suffolk County family law attorneys of McGuire & Peláez, PC. Ms. Peláez has practiced daily in the family court for more than 10 years as private and Court appointed counsel, and she will zealously fight for your rights as a parent. Contact our Long Island family law firm at (631) 348-1702.

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