General Information

The following information may be useful to people who must appear in the Family Court.


Your Right to an Attorney:

Any person appearing in Family Court has the right to be represented by an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible to be represented by an attorney without charge. If you believe that to be the case, you should immediately contact the Tompkins County Assigned Counsel Program for an application. Applications can also be picked up at the Family Court offices.



It is not the ordinary policy of the court to grant adjournments of scheduled Family Court proceedings. You must make every possible effort to be present to insure that your rights are adequately protected. Your failure to appear, without acceptable explanation in advance, could result in the entry of an order that would adversely affect your rights or result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.

Nevertheless, the court recognizes that there may be circumstances that will require an adjournment. Please follow the following procedure:

a) If you are represented by an attorney, please contact your attorney first and do so immediately. He or she will advise you as to how you should proceed.

b) If you are not represented by an attorney, please contact the Family Court, in writing, as to your request for an adjournment on notice to all parties. Please be sure to include your mailing address and telephone number so that we may get back to you. If time precludes a written request, please contact the Family Court by telephone. The telephone number is 607-216-6640.


Courtroom Behavior:

a) It is suggested that you appear a few minutes before your case is scheduled. Please announce your arrival to the Court Attendant.

b) It is your attorney's responsibility to instruct you on proper behavior when you are in the courtroom. However, you should realize that it is improper for men to wear a hat in the courtroom and no one should chew gum.

c) No food or beverages are allowed within the courtroom or waiting area.

d) It is necessary to stand when the Judge/Court Magistrate enters the Courtroom.

e) You should request permission to speak before addressing the Court or any other person in the Courtroom.

f) If you have testimony to offer, it will be necessary that you be placed under oath to tell the truth. You should be aware that it is the crime of perjury to testify falsely or deny knowledge which you actually have.



The court will not allow children in the courtroom unless they are respondents or witnesses. Under no circumstances should children otherwise be brought into the courtroom without prior arrangements being made. The court does not provide baby sitting services for children while their parents are in the courtroom. Children should be left at home, properly supervised, or you should bring some appropriate individual with you to watch your children while you are in the courtroom.


Courthouse Security:

You should be aware that a metal detector is in operation at the main entrance to the Courthouse. Anyone entering the building will be required to pass through the detector. Additionally, any or all packages or parcels you attempt to bring will be subject to a search.



New York State law prohibits smoking in public places. All public areas of the Tompkins County Courthouse have been designated as "no smoking" areas. Please refrain from smoking in the lobbies, halls, elevators, waiting rooms, and conference rooms and bathrooms of the courthouse.