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Representing Children's Interests Since 1997

Our History

On April 15, 1996, former Chief Judge, Hon. Judith S. Kaye announced in a speech a new focus on custody and visitation matters. In her speech, entitled a “New Family Court Initiative for Custody and Visitation Cases,” she stated:

“Judges always seek to identify the course of action that is in the best interests of the child, and as we know all too well that can be very difficult to do when information from the many agencies and service providers involved in family cases may be incomplete or unreliable. The aim of our new effort is to increase the Court’s ability to obtain timely and relevant information in a coordinated fashion about litigants’ abilities to care for children—so that the judges can make the best decisions possible to safeguard the welfare of children. The Court can act only in its role as an adjudicator—not an investigator or prosecutor - and it is critical that judges have all of the necessary history about the parties and the facts of the case before them when they are making critical decisions about custody and visitation.”

In order to achieve this goal, Judge Kaye called for the appointment of independent counsel for children in custody/visitation cases in Family Court. This speech is the inspiration that led directly to a year of planning by CLCNY’s founders, Carol Sherman and Fern Schair. Carol Sherman, currently a Family Court Judge, was the first Executive Director. She began representing children in 1972, at a time when there was little law in this area, and she has been at the forefront of juvenile justice and family law ever since. Along with Fern Schair, the former President of CLCNY, and with the support of Barbara H. Dildine, the Deputy Director of Appeals, Judge Sherman created a comprehensive multidisciplinary law firm to represent children in these cases.

Read more about CLC's History: Legal Representation for Children in Custody and Visitation Cases

A Strong and Effective Voice

Established as a pilot in 1997, CLC began accepting cases in the Brooklyn Family Court in December of that year. In its first fiscal year, CLC represented over 2,000 children. Since then, CLC has expanded its operations to Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, providing a strong and effective voice to over 100,000 children since its inception.

CLC currently represents children in both the Family Court and the Integrated Domestic Violence Parts of the Supreme Court. Judges in the Family Court and Integrated Domestic Violence Parts of the Supreme Court are concerned with the safety and well-being of the children in the cases before them. Although assignment of counsel by the judge to children in custody, visitation, domestic violence and paternity cases is optional, judges have increasingly realized that children can benefit greatly from having their voices in the proceeding heard through the assignment of independent counsel, the Attorney for the Child.

In 2011, CLC started the Securing Seamless Education Services Project SSES – pronounced SUCCESS – to assist our clients with education advocacy in the court, community, and the school system.

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