Association of Counties Testifies on Family Court Representation

The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) today provided testimony to the NYS Unified Court System Commission on Parental Legal Representation.

In the testimony, NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario encouraged the State to follow the model from Hurrell-Harring v. State to strengthen its constitutionally-mandated parental representation system. Read the full testimony here.

New York has always been a national leader in understanding the need for Family Court, and through the Family Court Act seeks to provide a system by which all interested parties and, most importantly, children, are protected. Family Court operates with a focus on providing solutions to family disputes and helping individual family members with the safest and best path forward.

“New York State should ensure fair meaning and execution of the Family Court Act and adequately fund and properly provide counsel to address the complex issues between family, parents, and children. Currently, many state-mandated functions of Family Court are financed by local governments, a system that is not sustainable,”said Acquario.

The next frontier is the financing of parental representation in the Family Court system, currently mandated by the State and financed by counties and New York City. “The current situation hurts local taxpayers and local governments as they must shoulder the burden of a system the State created but was unwilling to financially support,” said Charles H. Nesbitt, Jr., Orleans County Chief Administrative Officer and NYSAC President.

“Counties, the State, and the Courts must work together to create efficiencies in the current system,” said Acquario. “These options will help, but they will not fix the system. Ultimately, the State needs to step up and strengthen its constitutionally-mandated parental representation system. The improvements we have already seen in the criminal court system can and should occur in Family Court, as well.”

For further background on this issue and indigent defense visit

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