In New York, Family Court can only adjudicate matters that involve people in “familial” relationships. Generally, familial relationships are blood relationships, marriage relationships, and intimate relationships. Note that an intimate relationship does not have to be a sexual relationship. However, it does need to be more than a casual friendship. The purpose of a family court proceeding, pursuant to Article 8 of the Family Court Act, is to allow a petitioner the opportunity to seek help for the offending family member instead of subjecting the family member to the potential punishment that would be imposed by a criminal court. In Coleman v. McKenzie, the court was asked to decide if a relationship amounts to a “familial” relationship as contemplated by Article 8 of the Family Court Act.
On December 30, 2021, the petitioner filed a petition in Family Court requesting a final Order of Protection against respondent. In response, the respondent argued that the court should dismiss the petition because the Family Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over this matter because a familial connection did not exist between the petitioner and the respondent. CPLR § 3211 (a)(2). The petitioner responded that that the petitioner and the respondent are “like family,” and therefore have a relationship that satisfies the requirements of Article 8 of the Family Court Act.