Family Defense

Family Defense

The Family Defense Practice at Brooklyn Defenders has been representing parents and other caregivers in Family Court since 2007. Today, we are the primary provider of legal representation to parents facing the removal of their children to the foster system in Brooklyn Family Court.

Thousands of families face the possibility of separation due to a wide range of circumstances, mostly stemming from poverty, lack of stable housing or child care, mental health or health diagnoses or intellectual disabilities. Once in court, families often face prolonged separation and years of supervision by the Administration for Children's Services.

Brooklyn Defenders provides a wide range of services, including assisting people who are facing an investigation, providing legal representation to people who are brought to court and helping to clear the records of people from databases that impact employment. Our goal is to keep families safely together or reunify families as soon as possible when separation occurs. Our attorneys, social workers and other staff work together to advise, assist and represent parents every step of the way.

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Units & Projects

Early Defense

Our Early Defense team provides advocacy to parents during the initial stages of an ACS investigation. The goal of our early intervention is to avoid court filings that have a harsh impact on families. Our team works to find temporary custody arrangements, refute false allegations and help inform parents of their rights at early stages of an ACS investigation about their family.

Laws and Appeals

Our Law & Appeals attorneys work on special legal proceedings, including appeals and special motions in family court. They also develop training materials to enrich and support the Family Defense Practice.

Medically Complicated Team

Our Medically Complicated Team defends parents facing allegations that stem exclusively from a medical opinion. Our team is able to navigate the science, medical diagnosis and documentation, retain appropriate medical experts, and contest the validity of some of the questionable “science” that leads to diagnoses that in turn lead to family separation.

Preserving Family Bonds

Our Preserving Family Bonds team enhances the representation we provide to clients at the later stages of a case, including termination of parental rights, should a parent be faced with this possibility. This dedicated team works closely with parents to achieve family reunification even when their children have been in the foster system for a long time. Where reunification is not possible, we work to achieve the most favorable resolution possible to preserve the family’s bond whenever possible for the benefit of the parent and the child.

Family Defense Staff

Our team of attorneys, paralegals, advocates, social workers and administrative staff provide a broad range of family defense representation, advocacy and support.

A family defense attorney smiling in front of an orange wall.
If I hadn’t had the support of BDS, I wouldn’t have been able to stop ACS from removing my kids. I think that every parent should have an advocate.
Ms. B, BDS Client
An illustration of a mother bathing her young child.

In 2020,

76%

of BDS' family defense clients were reunited with their children at the conclusion of their family court case.