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Protect Yourself from Racial Inequality in Family Court

by | Jun 24, 2020 | Abuse, divorce mediation, News and Events

As communities begin to explore the depths of racial inequality in today’s society and seek to rectify them, one place that may need to be addressed is the family court system. While most court systems in the U.S. are considered by some to be racially biased to some degree, New York courts cannot avoid the critical eye with regard to issues of discrimination and segregation of Black families and families of color. How does racial inequality manifest in family legal matters on Long Island and what can you do to protect your rights and the rights and best interests of your family? Here’s what you should know.

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What Does Racial Inequality Look Like in Family Law Cases?

In family legal cases, racial inequality can show up in a number of different ways. Statistically, authorities are more likely to seek the removal of children from a parent of color’s care and appear more often to charge Black parents and people of color with child abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and other crimes. Once in foster care, Black children are rarely reunited with their families, regardless of if a parent follows all court-ordered requirements, such as obtaining counseling and rehabilitation. Black parents also face the greater likelihood that their parental rights will be permanently terminated.

The Facts About Racial Inequality in Family Court

These eye-opening statistics paint an unsettling picture of what family court can be like for Black families and other families of color:

  • The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges published a study in 2000 that indicated Black children were representative of 36% of all children in foster care, while only representing 15% of the total population of children. As of 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau reports that Black children still make up a quarter of the children in foster care.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also reports that Black children are more than twice as likely to be placed in the foster care system as white children.
  • In New York City, the Administration for Children’s Services reported that in 2013, nearly 60% of the children in the city’s foster care system were Black. 34% of the children were of Hispanic origin, and just 5% of the children in foster care were white even though the Census Bureau reports that New York’s total population of white individuals is 42.7% or nearly half.

How to Protect Yourself During a Family Legal Matter

Until the roots of systemic racial inequality are exposed and rectified, Black families appear to be at a disadvantage in family court. Here are some things you can do to help protect yourself and your loved ones.

Avoid Any & All Criminal Activity

This goes without saying, but even minor criminal charges can become larger issues that complicate matters significantly.

Document Everything

If your child comes home from school with an injury, immediately take photos and get a copy of the school report. Or, if your child is injured while playing at home, write down what happened and when. If you share custody with your child’s other parent, write down all pick-up and drop off times, and keep records of all communication.

Do Not Assume the Law Is On Your Side

Child Protective Services (CPS) is not only looking for a reason to become involved in your case, statistically they appear to show a bias against Black families and families of color. Do not answer questions or allow CPS or law enforcement agents into your home without a warrant.

Involved in a Divorce or Child Custody Battle? Contact Us Today

If you are a Black parent or a parent of color, don’t hesitate to get legal help as soon as possible. It’s critical that you have someone in your corner asserting your rights and defending your interests. Contact Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today to learn more about how to protect your legal rights or to schedule your initial consultation at 631-923-1910.

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Robert Hornberger and Christine Verbitsky

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