The Need

The Need

The New York Family Courts were established in the early 1960s as a place for low-income families to resolve urgent issues such as domestic violence, custody, delinquency, abuse, and neglect. Each year, there are over 650,000 filings in the New York State Family Courts, where over 80% of litigants are not represented by an attorney. In most cases, the litigant does not qualify for free, court-appointed representation, even though they cannot afford to hire a lawyer.

Exacerbating the lack of legal counsel, families must also struggle with a confusing system in which cases move too slowly due to a lack of sufficient resources. Litigants are confronted by numerous delays, a fragile infrastructure, few court interpreters, and--outside of LIFT--no place specifically for information or support to address the issues associated with their Family Court matters. With only 64 judges adjudicating over 250,000 filings annually in New York City, there is not enough time to treat each matter with the care and caution it deserves. 

Those in Need

A staggering 97% of the people LIFT serves are proceeding in Family Court without an attorney. LIFT works directly with New York’s underserved families so that they may successfully overcome this significant challenge. Most of our participants live in the City’s low-income neighborhoods and 11% are monolingual Spanish-speaking.

The following charts indicate the diversity of the people LIFT serves each year:



FY2018 Data                         

All of LIFT’s programs provide vital resources to those who would otherwise be left without assistance, and empower families to secure positive outcomes for themselves and their children. We work to promote access to justice, one family at a time.