Our dedicated attorneys, social workers, and parent advocates in the Family Defense Practice zealously defend Bronx parents against the painful and unnecessary removal of their children and the potential dissolution of their families. Despite the myriad studies showing that children are better off staying with their own parents, parents in the Bronx are at risk of being targeted in child neglect and abuse investigations or losing custody of their children because they have marginal resources or employment, have unstable housing, suffer from mental illness or addiction, or are victims of abuse themselves. Each year, these issues drive thousands of children into the child protection system. Once in the system, children often languish in foster homes as their parents and caretakers attempt to meet the court’s often lengthy and onerous requirements to secure their return. Without a strong legal defense and the resources and support to address and resolve the problems that brought them there, many families will continue to cycle in and out of family court for years at a time, sometimes generation after generation—destabilizing their lives, families, and communities in the process.
In 2007, the Family Defense Practice became the first institutional provider for parents in the Bronx charged with abuse and neglect and who are potentially facing termination of parental rights. For the past 15 years we have leveraged our model of holistic representation to provide members of the community facing child welfare involvement with an innovative and zealous legal defense. We work to establish innovative and client-centered solutions to address any underlying issues faced by our clients and their families. In addition to defending against the charges of neglect and abuse, we fight to keep families together with comprehensive motion practice, litigation, and preventative advocacy.
Achievements & Initiatives
- Over the last 15 years, we have grown to represent parents in 85% of the abuse and neglect cases in the Bronx Family Court system.
- We are the only family defense organization in New York City that provides advocacy for families during the child protection investigation before a legal case is filed, often making court intervention unnecessary.
- Our Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies and Focus on Fathers programs provide specialized support to some of our most vulnerable clients in Family Court.
- We host a clinic for students at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law interested in learning how to defend families against unreasonable and unnecessary state disruption.
- We hold regular charitable fundraisers for our clients and their families, raising thousands of dollars for toys, school supplies and basic necessities.
- Our attorneys have successfully litigated on behalf of our clients in the First Department, establishing important legal precedent for all cases pending in Family Court.
- Our attorneys have led CLEs and judicial trainings on pressing family law issues across the city and nation.