The opposing party has an attorney I am a single mother of 2 and can no longer afford an attorney
It is either pay my rent and provide a home for me and my children or pay an attorney and my children come first.
Force you? No. But you should. Remember - if he has the money, he has to pay.
Under the rules governing the conduct of attorneys in New York it may be necessary to remind you that this answer could be considered attorney advertising.
No, you cannot be forced to retain an attorney in a divorce case or any type of case for that matter.
Family Law Attorney
Perhaps, if you financially qualify the judge will appoint an attorney to help you with issues affecting custody. But, no the judge cannot force you to hire an attorney. As you know your divorce will affect your financially for many years, so the investment will be worth it if you have a good attorney.
The judge can not force you but can pressure you. But is advisable to get one.
The above is a general answer and is not considered legal advice. You should contact an attorney before proceeding to take any legal action, signing any papers or upon service of a summons.