Should You Lose Custody of Your Kid if you Can’t Afford a Lawyer?
According to the law as it stands, this could happen, and does. But if you're entitled a lawyer when there's a possibility of jail-time, shouldn't you also have access to an attorney to help you keep your kid when you can't afford one on your own?
A Washington woman and her attorneys on appeal (at the law firm where I once interned, I might add) are fighting to make the law reflect this common sense. This ABA article discusses her case. The case is part of a nationwide effort to expand the right to counsel in civil cases in areas where health, housing, safety, food or family issues are involved. The effort is known as Civil Gideon, because it is the civil law equivalent to the right to counsel for criminal defendants, established in the Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainright. See here for prior posts on Civil Gideon.