The right to representation during certain legal cases is one that Americans enjoy as part of their Constitutional rights; however, this does not usually include guaranteed assistance for divorce cases handled by family law attorneys.

Attorneys who special in family law are typically paid by the client, except in certain cases where the state brings a family law-related suit against a person.

In these instances, family law attorneys may be provided when assistance is requested using the proper channels.

Family Law Attorneys Not Normally Provided

The Texas family court allows every person entering into a family law case to provide their own family law attorney if they desire representation.

Unlike criminal cases, they do not guarantee the services of a family law attorney in these cases, since most of them are filed and based on personal situations.

The cases that do not qualify for obtaining legal help from the state include divorces, private child custody cases, paternity hearings, private termination and voluntary relinquishing of paternal rights, and adoption cases.

When Are Family Law Attorneys Provided By The State?

Though the state does not provide family law attorneys for most divorce or custody cases, there are two instances when one can be provided at the request of the defendant:

  • State-Filed Termination of Parental Rights Cases - A family law attorney can be provided if requested to indigent parents who are facing the termination of their parental rights by the state to ensure they receive appropriate representation in this circumstance. This provision of legal assistance applies to all hearings and appeals.
  • Defendants In Civil Contempt In Enforcement Cases - A family law specialist may also be provided if requested to indigent spouses if they are found to be in contempt during an enforcement case such as failure to pay child support, preventing visitation, and other cases where the result could include a jail sentence for the defendant.

In addition, some family courts will also assign attorneys upon request to low-income individuals to assist in private custody disputes and termination of parental rights cases, but the law does not require them to do so.

How Is A Family Law Attorney Provided?

When low-income spouses or parents find themselves in one of the above situations, they can request a family law attorney to represent them in a case brought by the state.

Normally, they will be informed by the court that assistance is available to them if needed when a case is filed.

To do this, the spouse or parent must file the appropriate forms through the Texas family court to apply for legal help and prove their financial need for this assistance.

The best advice for those seeking a family law attorney to assist them in their case is to request one as soon as possible, preferably when filing to contest the suit being brought against them, whether that is a termination or civil contempt suit.

Providing all necessary information as quickly as possible can help those in need of assistance to receive it in a timely manner, well before their hearing.

Know When Parents Are Entitled To Family Law Attorneys

Many defendants are unclear on the state’s policies pertaining to the provision of family law attorneys in various Texas family law cases.

Most of the time, the state is not required to provide a family law specialist to low-income parents going through different family law proceedings.

When the state files cases against them and it could result in either the termination of parental rights or a jail sentence, the state is required to provide legal counsel for them.

The important detail is that low-income parents facing these cases must ask for this help and act quickly to obtain it.

Schreier & Housewirth Family Law

1800 West Bowie Street, Suite 200-E
Fort Worth TX 76110


Gregory L. Housewirth is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist practicing in Fort Worth Texas. With 30 years of family law experience, Mr. Housewirth has represented hundreds of clients in divorce, custody, CPS, modification, and grandparent cases. In addition, Mr. Housewirth is a qualified family law mediator and a member of Collaborative Law Texas, a practice group dedicated to promoting collaborative divorce in Texas.


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