What Are Trial Courts ?

By: Undisputed Legal/Court Service Department

Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is a statewide trial court that has the broadest jurisdiction of any court. The Supreme Court hears civil and criminal cases, but not claims against the state. It is the only court that handles divorces, annulments, and separations. Supreme Court justices are elected for 14-year terms. 

Family Court: The Family Court, present in every county in New York State, hears cases involving children and families including child custody and support, neglect and abuse, juvenile delinquency, family offenses (i.e. domestic violence), and paternity. The Family Court does not decide divorce, annulment, or separation proceedings. In New York City, pursuant to an executive order, the Mayor appoints Family Court judges from a list of candidates submitted by the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. In all other counties, Family Court judges are elected. All Family Court judges serve 10-year terms.