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My ex husband has filed a contempt motion claiming I violated a child custody court order. Do I have a right to counsel?

Los Angeles, CA |

The papers I received state the contempt proceeding is “criminal in nature.” If it is criminal in nature can I have a court appointed attorney? I know there is no right to a court appointed attorney in a normal divorce proceeding. However, if I am found in contempt I could go to jail, so that seems to change things quite a bit. I don't have the funds to employ a private attorney as I make just a bit over the minimum wage.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Please contact the court, if you face the possibility of jail time then in most cases you may be appointed counsel, however if it is a civil action in probate, it may be particular to california law. take care and please contact a local ca attny.

    Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Massachusetts. Responses are based solely on Massachusetts law unless stated otherwise.


  2. Yes, you may be entitled to court appointed counsel for the Contempt action if you meet certain criteria and should ask the clerk about having a Public Defender. Good luck.

    If you found this answer helpful, let me know by clicking the "Mark as Helpful" button or "Best Answer" at the bottom of this answer. By answering this question, the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton does not intend to form an attorney-client relationship with the asking party. The answers posted on this website should not be construed as legal advice. The Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton does not make any representations about your family law matter, but rather, seeks to provide general information to the public about family-law related matters. You should consult with an attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case. Thank you.


  3. Yes, you have the right to counsel for a contempt proceeding that carries the risk of jail. If you do not have counsel, the court will either refer you for an evaluation of your eligibility for court-appointed counsel, or will take jail time off the table.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

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