Having to fight for the right to parent a child is among the most difficult experiences that anyone can go through. Not only is it a stressful time in a person’s life, it can also be a very expensive proposition. For parents in Florida and elsewhere who are living on a limited income, there is often little left over to cover legal fees. In certain cases, these parents will have no choice but to represent themselves, a scenario that can lead to disaster in any type of child custody case.
Some states are beginning to recognize this disparity, and they are looking for ways to even the playing field when a lower-income parent is fighting for custody rights against the state or a parent who is able to retain an attorney. This research is in the earliest stages. However, legislation may soon be considered that would provide legal counsel to those who cannot afford that service in family court.
This move would drastically change the circumstance of lower-income parents who are trying to fight for custody rights. Having to act as one’s own attorney is difficult, and the average person has little to no knowledge of the law or of courtroom procedure. In addition, many judges do not look favorably upon people who try to represent themselves, which can create bias.
As the issue continues to receive attention, states may begin to vote on laws that would provide legal assistance to those who need it the most when fighting over child custody. The issue is sure to raise debate in Florida and across the nation. At the same time, it is a topic that many feel has been overlooked for far too long.
Source: The Seattle Times, “States look to provide lawyers for the poor in civil cases“, Dave Collins, March 29, 2016