How do I ask for a lawyer in a petition for appointment of guardian of minor case?

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If you are a parent and someone has filed to create a guardianship over your child, and do not have enough money for an attorney, you have the right to have the court appoint you an attorney.

Your rights as a parent

When a child becomes involved in a guardianship case, the court should tell the parent that they have the right to a lawyer if they cannot afford one. A parent has the right to an attorney here because a guardian will take over caring for the child and will be able to make all decisions for the child. If a guardian is appointed, a parent without the ability to pay a lawyer has the right to a court-appointed attorney before they lose their right to parent their child.

This right is based on the court case called Guardianship of V.V. which you can read for more information.

Filling out the application

To get a court-appointed attorney, you need to complete an Application for Appointment of Counsel For Parent of Minor Child Guardianship of Minor.

The Application form to ask for a court appointed attorney only asks for you to provide your name, contact information, and that you want the court to appoint you an attorney. This form tells the court that you are unable to afford an attorney and want the court to appoint and pay for the lawyer.

Even if the state pays the lawyer, the court will ask you to pay a $150.00 "counsel fee assessment". If you cannot afford the $150, check the box on the form to ask the court to "waive" the $150 counsel assessment fee.  "Waiving" the fee means they will not make you pay it.

Filing the application

After you complete the application, you need to file it with the Registry of the Probate and Family Court in your county. Before the court appoints you a lawyer, you will need to give the court some more information.

You will need to show the court that you do not have enough money to afford an attorney. The court will ask you to complete a form to get more information about your income. When you file your application, the court registry or the probation department should give you a consent form. This form will ask you for information relating to any income and/or benefits you receive, where you live, and other general information about you. The court uses this information to decide that you do not have enough money to afford an attorney.

What happens next?

If the court determines that you are eligible for a court appointed attorney, they will send out an order saying you will be appointed an attorney. It may take some time for an attorney to be appointed. If you do not hear from an attorney for a long period, you may reach out to the court to get an update on when your attorney will be appointed.

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