How do I ask for a lawyer in a petition for removal of guardian of minor or general petition to modify?

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If you are a parent whose child is under a guardianship that you want to end, and do not have enough money for an attorney, you may be able to have the court appoint you an attorney to regain custody.

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

If you are looking for general information on ending a guardianship, see How to end a guardianship of a minor. 

Filling out the Application

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 asks 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.

Additional Requirements

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:

  1. You do not have enough money to afford an attorney, and
  2. Your case to regain custody has “merit.”


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.


you will need to show that your case has “merit.” The court defines merit as a case that is “worthy of being presented to and considered by the court.” For more information about how the court decides merit, you can read L.B. v. Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court. For a case to have merit, you need to explain that there has been some change in your life since the guardian was appointed, which means you can now resume your parental responsibilities.

You do not need to convince the judge that you should win the case. You only need to give the judge a good reason to believe that the court should consider ending the guardianship. Some examples of positive changes would be:

  • You completed drug addiction treatment.
  • You have housing.
  • You have consistent income.
  • You completed a parenting class.
  • You’re going to counseling or attending therapy.
  • You left an abusive partner or got a restraining order.
  • You cooperated with the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
  • You are getting therapy to help you deal with problems you had when the guardianship started.

All of these positive changes help the judge to decide if your case has “merit.” You do not need to show that you have done everything right or are a perfect parent. You only need to show that your request to end the guardianship is worth the court reviewing.

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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