Can my brother get a public defender for a child custody case? 11 Answers as of June 20, 2013

My brother is going through a child custody case with his ex-girlfriend for his 2 girls. He's a good father and loves them as well as they love him. However, my ex-sister-in-law's new boyfriend is very controlling. He hates my brother. He wants her to take the girls completely away from their father so that she does not have any kind of contact with him. My brother just wants equal custody so that he can be part of his daughters' life. This custody case is based on 95% lies. The boyfriend is using her to get to my brother. There are many people who are worried and concerned for her life as well as the life of the girls with this new guy. Can my brother get a public defender to help him with this case?

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Michael Rose Attorney at Law
Michael Rose Attorney at Law | Michael Rose
Family law is not like criminal law where you can get a PD. There are low cost groups out there, you have to do some research to find them. One thing your brother has over the boyfriend is that he is the father.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/24/2012
Attorney at Law | Dorinda Ohnstad
Public defenders are only for criminal cases, not civil cases. Child custody cases are civil cases. There is often a family law facilitator hired by the county that can help answer questions concerning family law cases, but they cannot provide you representation. Some areas you may be able to access a pro bono (free) attorney who donates their time for low income individuals. Generally, however, when it comes to family law individuals either have to represent themselves or hire an attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/23/2012
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
No. Public Defenders are for people who are indigent and who are facing criminal misdemeanor felony charges. There are no public defenders assigned in child custody cases. He will need to retain a child custody law firm to help him.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/20/2012
Peyton and Associates | Barbara Peyton
A public defender can handle criminal matters and contempt matters in family law.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/20/2013
The Law Office of Erin Farley
The Law Office of Erin Farley | Erin Farley
Public defenders are for criminal matters. This is a civil matter, so there is no right to an attorney. If the new boyfriend is as scary as the people around believe, go to the county courthouses and see if he has a criminal history. Get the records. If so, the court will be concerned for the girls. As to your brother, the best thing he can do for his children is to retain an attorney. If he can't pay for representation, then he should at the very least, get a couple of hours of advice. Tell your brother to be open and honest with the mediator and the court, and to keep his focus on his children and what is best for his children. Having a loving father IS best for his two girls. He must remain calm and clearheaded. As to false allegations, just have him say they are not true. If the mediator or judge wants further information, they will seek it, and he can answer honestly.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/19/2012
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    No, public attorneys are not appointed for this issue.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2012
    Law Office of M. Jude Egan | M. Jude Egan
    In short, no. A public defender is solely for criminal defense. Your brother, however, should see a family law facilitator if one is available in his jurisdiction or seek an attorney who will be able to represent him. If the facts are as you say they are, there is a strong argument for your brother to get custody of the children - the law places the safety of the children above all else and if they are in any kind of danger the court would remove them from the ex's custody. But making and proving this argument will be tough; this is best done with competent legal assistance.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2012
    Walnut Creek Family Law Center, Inc. | Merritt L. Weisinger
    No. Public Defenders are only in criminal and juvenile court cases; not family law cases. He might contact his local county bar association as they usually have a modest means panel.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2012
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    Public defenders are only available for criminal matters, so no, he cannot have a public defender. If he wants an attorney, he will need to pay for one himself, although if his ex makes more than he does, she may be ordered to contribute to his fees.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2012
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    Public defenders only represent criminal defendants and not litigants in civil or family law cases. Please contact you local county bar association attorney referral service to see if there are any attorneys willing to provide services on a low cost or sliding scale basis.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2012
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    No. Unfortunately, public defenders are appointed only in criminal cases where the defendant is indigent or nearly indigent. Your brother would best be represented by a competent, experienced Family Law Attorney.If he can't afford a private attorney, then depending on where the case is located, there may be reduced-fee attorneys available. If the case is in Los Angeles, he might contact the Harriet Buhai Center to determine whether they would represent him.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2012
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