Legal Services

Resources to help you find an attorney or attorney assistance:

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Finding an Attorney:

Websites, Bar Associations, and the Court Administration offer help in finding attorneys and legal services:

The NYS Bar Association’s referral program.  Referrals are to attorneys for hire.

Go to: NYS Bar Association

County Bar Associations. Each County Bar also has an attorney referral service.  Visit your County Bar Association website for more information.

NYS Legal Services Providers may have programs to assist kinship caregivers. Law Help helps low-income New Yorkers find out information about:

  • Free legal service programs
  • Information about legal rights education
  • Links to social services and government agencies
  • Information about the court system
  • Resources available in a wide range of languages!

For a listing of legal service providersvisit LawHelp.

Go to: Law Help

NYS Court Administration website has a search feature to find attorneys.

Go to: NY Courts

NYS Court Administration operates volunteer attorney programs.

Go to: NY Courts Volunteer Program

NYS Kinship Navigator attempts to connect callers with legal assistance. We are sometimes successful in referring callers to private attorneys. We also work to help make referrals to legal services organizations. Please call us at 877-454-6463 for further information.

Assignment of Counsel to Indigent Kinship Caregivers


New York State Court Assistance:

Help Centers: Some courts and community organizations have special offices at the courthouse for helping people who don’t have a lawyer for free.

Go to: Help Centers

Office of Court Administration Forms and Resources:

Go to:
For Court Forms
For Family Court Information
For Court Dates
Onondaga County Family Court Citizen’s Guide to Family Court

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) presents opportunities for parties to resolve their differences without court procedures.  Examples are:  visitation, custody, and housing.  Certain courthouses and centers also offer assistance for children.  For more information and to find centers in your county, see link above.

Go to: NYS Court Alternative Dispute Resolution


Legal Services Organizations with Special Interest in Kinship Care


The Rural Law Center of New York, Inc.  Since 1996, the Rural Law Center of New York (RLCNY) has been providing free civil legal services to low-income individuals and families statewide. The Rural Law Center’s legal staff is available to assist kinship caregivers from most upstate New York counties. Family members are welcome to contact our offices with any questions you may have regarding custody, visitation and other Family Court matters.  Our staff will provide legal advice and can assist you with the preparation of custody petitions and other common issues. Our services are made possible primarily with financial support from NYS Judiciary Civil Legal Services and the IOLA Fund of the State of New York.  The RLCNY serves every upstate county in New York except: Erie, Niagara, Monroe, Onondaga, Oneida, Broome, Albany, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Westchester. We do not serve NYC or Long Island.

Go to: Rural Law Center

Empire Justice Center is a not for profit law program that provides legal assistance and advocacy to low-income families regarding civil issues, childcare, public benefits, and more. The organization currently has offices in Albany, Rochester, and White Plains, NY. Their website provides great detail and legislative updates on twelve common social issues that they provide advocacy and legal assistance with: child care, child support, Civil League services, Civil Rights, Consumer and Community Development, Disability benefits, Domestic Violence, Education, Health, Housing, Immigrant Rights and Public benefits.

In addition to providing these services, the organization also provides accredited training for advocates representing clients on each issue, as well as an online resource center stating case law and precedents with which o assist advocates as they work with clients. The website is user friendly and informative for both caregivers and agencies.

Go to: Empire Justice

MFY Legal Services (Mobilization for Youth) is a Manhattan based organization that provides advocacy and representation for low-income clients. Their Pro Bono Family law project aims to serve kinship caregivers seeking guardianship, custody and adoption. Telephone intake hours for this program are Monday and Wednesday 10:00am-4:00pm.Although the offices for this program are physically located in Manhattan, there is a helpful link redirecting visitors to another website ( to find representation and legal advice in any other part of the country.

Go to: MFY legal services

Center for Family Representation’s primary goal of this organization is to ensure family cohesiveness. Assistance through advocacy and free legal representation is available to families that have a combination of poverty and crisis that threatens removal of children. Located in New York City, the agency provides Community Advocacy Teams (CAT) to assist families via a combination of advocate, lawyer, and social worker.The website also provides various toolkits for professionals and clients that guide interactions as well as “rules of thumb” for situations involving Child Protective Services, visitation and permanency hearings.

Go to: Center for Family Representation

Legal Information For Today’s (LIFT) mission is to enhance access to justice for children and families by providing legal information, community education, and compassionate guidance, while promoting system-wide reform of the courts and public agencies.  To accomplish this mission, LIFT operates:

  • An Education & Information Site in Brooklyn Criminal Court;
  • Education & Information Sites in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens Family Courts;
  • A Legal Education Program- offering a wide-range of community education workshops throughout New York City’s neighborhoods;
  • A Legal Information Hotline; and
  • The Judge for a Day Program.

LIFT also creates and distributes resource guides which provide information about a wide-range of matters addressed in Family and Criminal Court. The guides are available in Chinese, English, Haitian/Creole, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.
Hotline: (212) 343-1122

Go to: Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT)

County Specific Legal Resources:

County Court Clinics, in some counties, the local bar or a legal service organization, or the court  itself provides assistance in completing guardianship and custody petitions. Also, the legal services organizations in some counties have programs supportive of kinship legal issues. Each county may or may not have such services.

Go to the Resource Map for listings of legal resources in your county.