Class Action Filed Against NY Court Officials on Behalf of Low-Income Parents Denied Child Support Justice in Family Court


Representing low-income parents in New York City, an Orrick pro bono team today filed a class action lawsuit against New York’s family court system and its leadership for failing to comply with statutory deadlines requiring the swift resolution of contested child support proceedings.

Led by Rene Kathawala, the firm’s pro bono counsel, the petition for relief names the chief administrative judge of the state of New York and the chief administrative judge for the family court system, alleging they have violated an important administrative rule that impacts the rights of thousands of parents in the legal system. The case was brought on behalf of a class of low-income parents, many of them mothers, who suffer interminable delays in securing child support.

The lawsuit asserts that family court judges systematically fail to comply with a statute that requires child support cases to be finalized no later than 90 days from filing of the petition.

“Unfortunately, for custodial parents in the New York City Family Court, the vast majority of whom are low-income mothers and unrepresented by counsel, the reality is that these petitions are decided many more than three months or even years after the violation petition is filed,” the petition states. “The Family Court’s routine violation of its own rule prevents custodial parents, commonly mothers, from being able to provide for their children. This harms families, including the vulnerable children who are the voiceless victims. It also undermines the integrity of the justice system in the New York City Family Court.”

The petition can be found here.

In addition to Rene, the Orrick team included litigation partner John Ewald, international litigation associate Jaak Poldma, Los Angeles managing Litigation associate Amy Byrd and senior New York legal assistant Oward Anson.