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I need legal representation, but I do not have the financial means to pay legal fees. Where can I find legal help?

Child Welfare


Individuals and families involved with the child welfare system and juvenile and family courts often need and benefit from legal representation; however, navigating the judicial system and retaining the services of an attorney can be confusing and costly. There are many resources available to individuals who may be unable to afford legal representation.

If assistance is needed in locating an attorney, the American Bar Association (ABA) website provides a variety of services to the general public, including a lawyer referral directory and the Find Legal Help webpage, which includes legal aid and pro bono attorney referrals and links to court resources. The ABA website also features a Free Legal Answers webpage that enables qualified users the ability to submit questions about civil legal issues and receive answers from volunteer attorneys.

The National Center for State Courts, an independent, nonprofit court improvement organization, also maintains an extensive list of legal aid/pro bono resources. Additionally, the Center provides links to family courts' websites, which offer contact information, forms, and relevant statutes, custody and visitation resources, procedures, paternity, frequently asked questions, and more.

Many court systems offer family mediation services, which are a low-cost alternative to traditional court proceedings. Mediation services generally provide an impartial third party whose role is to help negotiate a resolution to a legal issue, short of returning to court with an attorney. For more information about mediation and other related options, visit the Alternative Dispute Resolution webpage on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

Last Reviewed: July 8, 2019