According to reporting from the New York Law Journal, the New York State Judicial System has made considerable progress in addressing a massive court backlog that peaked approximately four years ago.
In this year’s “State of Our Judiciary”, New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore highlighted recent initiatives. These help to reduce the level of court delays in the state. Notably, the longstanding backlog has adversely affected both criminal and civil courts in New York. For perspective, there were over 4,500 divorce cases pending in New York City alone at the end of 2016. This is a substantial increase when compared to the number of pending divorce case a decade prior. Even though the divorce rate in New York is falling, the court backlog was growing.
Though certain courts in New York City have the biggest problems, there are family court backlogs all across the state.
Many thousands of divorce cases and other family law proceedings are on delay in New York in recent years. Delays in family law cases have been an especially concerning issue ever since Family Court Act became law in New York in 2008. Some observers argued that an amendment contained within this legislation encouraged some people to file frivolous cases and exacerbated court delays. Waiting for a court date can be frustrating, especially in a high stakes case.
As Syracuse, NY family law attorney Richard J. Bombardo explained;
“Whether it is a divorce or a child custody dispute, family law cases are always stressful. Dealing with delays can make the legal process all the more frustrating. It is important that New York legislators and its judicial system continue to take steps to make the process more fair and efficient.”
The Office of Court Administration (OCA) sets official standards and goals for how long it should take to resolve cases on average.
These standards vary based on the type of legal proceedings in question, as complex cases can take far longer for resolutions. Under the current standards, the goal is to resolve the majority of civil family law cases; child custody, child visitation, adoption, paternity, etc., within 180 days. Although clear progress has been, more still needs done. In assessing the current state of affairs, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks told reporters that the judiciary may request that more family court judges be appointed in the future.