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Monday, October 02, 2006

Right to Assignment of Counsel in Divorce and Custody Cases

We applaud the New York Legislature for finally recognizing that indigent litigants in custody and visitation cases broght in the Supreme Court should have the same right to the assignment of free counsel as litigants in custody and visitation cases brought in the family court. Judiciary Law 35 has been amended to require Judges in the Supreme Court to assign counsel in such cases. It would appear that the Supreme Court judges are now required to notify defendants of the right to counsel, as well as the right to an adjournment to obtain counsel, and to the right to the appointment of free counsel if they can not afford to retain an attorney. It would also appear that these rights apply, even in divorce cases, where custody or visitation is in issue.