Your right and your child’s right to a lawyer

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed June 2021

Your child’s right to a lawyer

In a Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) case, your child has the right to their own lawyer at all hearings. All children in Massachusetts court cases qualify for a court-appointed lawyer.

The court will tell your child they have the right to a lawyer.

The court will appoint a lawyer for your child. This lawyer represents your child’s wishes.

If you want to hire a lawyer for your child, you can. But if the lawyer you hire is your child's lawyer they are not your lawyer, even if you pay them.

If you hire a lawyer for yourself, the court still appoints a lawyer for your child.

Your right to a lawyer

Parents have the right to a court-appointed lawyer at any hearing where the judge is deciding custody of your child. You can ask the judge for a lawyer or ask your child’s lawyer to help you get a lawyer.

If your income is low enough, the court will appoint a free lawyer for you.

The probation office will ask you about your income to figure out if you qualify for a free lawyer. If the judge decides that you are able to pay something, they will order you to pay a reasonable amount for the court-appointed lawyer.

Use the "Affidavit of Indigency" form to show the judge your income is low. You have to swear that the information you put on the form is true.

You can always hire your own lawyer. You do not have to use or pay for the court-appointed lawyer.

To learn how to fill out an Affidavit of Indigency, see What if I cannot afford the cost of going to court?

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
Monday-Friday
between
9am and 4pm