Bronx Family Court Self-Help Center Pushes the Envelope

The Bronx County Family Court Help Center has been re-opened with a state-of-the-art integration of services.

The Help Center is conveniently located on the first floor of the courthouse, so unrepresented litigants can’t miss it and need not wait for the notoriously slow elevators in the building.  There is a huge welcoming Help Center sign above the opening.  Litigants are assisted on a first come first serve basis, no appointment is necessary.  There is no income screening.

This Center takes a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to serving the legal, procedural and informational needs of court users.

Without leaving the first floor Help Center or even moving to a different waiting area, a litigant can:

– File a petition, motion or order to show cause

– Appear before the Custody and Visitation Order Intake Judge/Referee in the Help Center courtroom

– Meet with a Volunteer Attorney for legal advice

– Request and/or receive a copy of a court order

– Select from an array of informational booklets.

In addition, the Help Center has:

– 10 public access A2J computers available for use complete with audio capabilities. (4o filings in the first day.)

– A dedicated court employee to act as a liaison for attorneys’ custody, visitation or family offense filings.

– A “Greeter” (who is also a Spanish Interpreter) to answer basic questions and navigate people to the right area expeditiously.

– A large screen TV playing court created informational videos.

– A LIFT (Legal Information for Families Today) table to assist litigants

I am told that a litigant can come into this Help Center seeking a domestic violence order of protection and can file a petition and meet with a Judge and get a temporary order and court date in a matter of 15 minutes, all in the Help Center.  As Judge Fern Fisher stated, the Bronx Family Court Help Center is, “a one stop shop access to justice dream.”

I particularity like the idea of an associated courtroom right in the Center.

When more information is available online, I will link to it.


About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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4 Responses to Bronx Family Court Self-Help Center Pushes the Envelope

  1. Ray Felix says:

    I disagree. I’ve been to family court six times and just to get a photo copy of a judges decision took 6 hrs. each time. I went into the waiting room at 9am to see the judge, you don’t get seen until 11 or 2pm. You have ten to 15 minutes to state your case, the judge makes a decision and you wait for the copy of that decision until 5 to 6pm. If you request to have it mailed to you, most of the time you never get one sent to you. You have to go back to court, spend another day waiting for the copy. The court system in the Bronx is horrific not to mention the hundreds of thousands of broken families which crowd the court house screaming on their cell phones about their case, arguments in the halls between failed spouses and the live gossip you get to hear as each female shares their stories. It’s like a live version of Jerry Springer, only worse, because children are involved. The American Dream is an American nightmare, especially for fathers who get hooked into the legal system of family court which is biased against them.

  2. Pingback: Follow-Up Guest Blog on Bronx Family Court Self-Help Center | Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

  3. Sharyn T. Sooho says:

    Impressive! Do you know the funding source?

  4. Jim Greiner says:

    Hi, Richard, great post, and many thanks for the terrifiic description. Question: any idea as to the cost of this access to justice dream? Many thanks!

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