Divorce Lawyer: Supreme Court Could Appoint You in Child Support Cases
The US Supreme Court is deciding whether a court appointed divorce lawyer is required for hearings on delinquent child support.
The United States Supreme Court is currently dealing with the extremely difficult legal question of whether poor people should be sentenced to jail during child support proceedings without the benefit of a divorce lawyer.† Based upon comments from the Justices themselves, they appear confused and flummoxed about how to rule.† This is likely due to the complicated procedural and legal problems with either of the two ways that they can decide.
Justice Kennedy summarized the arguments by claiming that litigants do not always have the right to have the benefit of legal counsel when they are before a court, but that they may have this right to an attorney in certain circumstances.† Kennedy went on to say that if the Supreme Court found that litigants did have a right to counsel, this could grind courts across the country to a halt leading their dockets to become congested with the huge number of child support cases that they have each year.
The actual litigant that is appealing to the Supreme Court has a compelling personal case for a divorce lawyer to assist him.† He is a man from South Carolina who has been found in contempt of court for not paying child support.† He claims that he is too poor to pay what the court has ordered him to pay.† The court in South Carolina has put in him jail repeatedly because he has not paid, including stays up to one year.† He argues that if an attorney could assist him explain to the court that he is unable to pay what he owes, he will have a greater ability for the court to work with him and find an amicable solution.
Beginning in the 1960s, the Supreme Court has held repeatedly that the indigent facing jail time need to have the opportunity to be provided with an attorney in order to protect their Sixth Amendment rights under the Constitution.† The problem with applying the Sixth Amendment right to counsel in this particular case is that this normally only applies to criminal cases, not domestic/civil litigation.
The woman that is owed child support in this case argues that mandating that litigants facing such civil litigation must have the opportunity to be represented would then apply to all sorts of other cases where confinement could be ordered, such as immigration law.† The federal government voiced its opinion that the Supreme Court should attempt to split the decision by having the local court judge question the party owing support or have the court have the person fill out a questionnaire providing the court with reasons supporting an inability to pay rather than having a divorce lawyer appointed in every case.† Showing the depth of frustration at finding a solution, Justice Kagan found that having a litigant simply fill out form did not seemingly meet her level of the procedural protections of a person facing jail time.Despite the Supreme Courtís difficulties in wording a solution, it seems clear right now that the highest court will not require a divorce lawyer for a parent owing child support just yet.† It does seem that there is a high probability of the court mandating some reforms before the parent is sent to jail.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
New Orleans has plenty of attorneys.† For assistance, contact a New Orleans divorce lawyer†to make sure that you are able to get what the law allows.† Will Beaumont has two locations at:
Beaumont Divorce, 3801 Canal St #207, New Orleans, LA, 70119 (504) 483-8008Beaumont Divorce of Metairie, 3814 Veterans Memorial Blvd #302, Metairie, LA, 70002 (504) 834-1117