National Center for Access to Justice

NCAJ Invited to Facilitate Three Training Sessions for NY Magistrates on Best Practices in Child Support Cases Involving Self Represented Litigants in NY State

At the invitation of the New York Courts, NCAJ is leading three training sessions in fall 2013 among child support magistrates in New York State on best practices in child support cases in which one party (or more) is proceeding without a lawyer.  NCAJ’s role in these sessions follows its project during summer 2013 in which it carried out a court observational study by 38 pro bono student summer associates (from law firms comprising the Pfizer Legal Alliance, see National Law Journal Story) on the role of child support magistrates with self represented parties in Kings County Family Court.  NCAJ is currently analyzing its data from the summer study.  The study is intended to illuminate the degree to which child support magistrates embrace neutral but proactive roles that include alerting self represented parties to potentially dispositive legal and evidentiary issues in their cases.  The study is also intended to identify correlations that may exist between the magistrates’ proactive roles and the parties’ perceptions of increased fairness of the proceedings.  The study follows the Supreme Court’s decision in Turner v. Rogers, 131 S.Ct. 2507 (2011) in which the Court encouraged trial court judges to assure due process for all parties, but declined to recognize a categorical constitutional right to counsel for respondents facing charges of civil contempt for alleged willful refusal to pay child support.  Please consider signing up for NCAJ’s blog on NCAJ’s home page,