I have applied with Legal Aid and qualified but was told they would not be able to take my case. Not sure why but I'm now left with a very tough battle regarding modification for custody orders. I am lost and do not know where to turn. My daughter involved (who is 16) needs to desperately be able to speak to the judge about why she doesn't want to live with her dad. How do we make that happen and can that happen?
Family Law Attorney
You did exactly what I would have suggested. If you ask them why they declined to help, they will answer you. Not sure what you mean when you say you were qualified, but they won't help. Please call them again and ask them why they can't help and what they advise that you do.
The above is not intended to be legal advice, but may be used for general information. Please contact an attorney for specific help tailored to your needs. www.figgardenlaw.com
Family Law Attorney
In a suit where custody is a disputed issue you can file a motion for the judge to confer with the child privately in the judge's chambers regarding who they want to live with. For children 12 and older the judge is statutorily required to interview the child about her preference. The child's preference is not binding on the judge but is extremely persuasive, especially for an older teenager.
Ma'am, as you have discovered there are not many free legal services, particularly in family law cases. You need to try and borrow money for a retainer from friends or family, charge up your credit cards, apply for a loan, etc. And certainly you may try to negotiate with lawyers regarding their fees.
You have done everything you can to find a free lawyer, and it does not sound like there are any available. You will have to hire one, like most people.
This information is not legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship.
Elder Law Attorney
Follow attorney Gelman's advice. I don't practice in Texas and have no affiliation with Texas legal services but being a former NC Legal Aid attorney I can tell you that most LSC programs are swamped with cases and are required to give priority to those cases where a grant or federal funding source specifically pays for the services. At least in NC there is no funding source that specifically pays for custody litigation, which is also one of the most expensive kinds of litigation. With no funding for the case and the high probability that the attorney will spend upwards of 50 hours in the litigation, it is easy to see why these cases are not typically accepted. Just a few custody litigation cases could easily exhaust the entire annual budget for most LSC providers.
Your options are probably to find some way to get the money to hire a private attorney, perhaps under a payment plan, or to proceed on your own without representation. Attorney Gelman has given you good advice for trying to do this on your own. I would imagine that with a 16 year old child, the court would put a lot of weight on her preferences. The best possible solution would be to avoid litigation altogether and simply try to calmly negotiate this with the other parent.
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Texas Wesleyan (soon to be Texas A&M) School of Law has a program that may be worth looking into. Here is the link. http://www.law.txwes.edu/LawClinic/ForPotentialClients-HowWeCanHelpYou.aspx
This quick response should not be taken as legal advice. Any initial consultations would be requested by calling: (817) 882-8492.