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