Monday, June 27, 2022

Public Comment Sought on Proposed Amendment for Uniform Standards of Eligibility in Family Court

The New York State Unified Court System is seeking public comment on a proposal that would implement eligibility standards for assigned counsel in all family court proceedings. This proposal would provide in part that:
1) “A person entitled to publicly funded counsel pursuant to [FCA 262, SCPA 407, or Judiciary Law 35(8)] shall be financially eligible for counsel when the person’s current available resources are insufficient to pay for a qualified private attorney, the expenses necessary for effective representation, and the reasonable living expenses of the person and any dependents.”

2) “Counsel shall be provided at the first court appearance or immediately following the request for counsel, whichever is earlier. Eligibility determinations shall be made in a timely fashion so that representation by counsel is not delayed.”

3) “A parent or legally responsible person, as defined by law, shall be entitled to and provided with immediate representation by counsel: (i) upon the filing of a petition or pre-petition request under Article 10 of the Family Court Act for an order for immediate removal of a child or temporary order of protection; (ii) where the court has received notice of an extra-judicial emergency removal of a child; or (iii) upon the filing of a petition alleging abuse or neglect against the parent or person legally responsible. In accordance with this entitlement, counsel shall be provided sufficiently in advance of the person’s first court appearance and shall also be provided for parents during a child protective agency investigation ….”

4) A presumption of eligibility when the person’s net income is at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines; the person is incarcerated, detained, or confined to a mental health institution, or is currently receiving, or has recently been deemed eligible pending receipt of, need-based public assistance, or within the past six months, has been deemed financially eligible for counsel in another court proceeding in that jurisdiction or another jurisdiction.

5) A determination denying counsel by the court or delegated screening entity shall be in writing, shall include reasons for the denial and procedure for seeking reconsideration, and shall be provided to the person seeking counsel.

The request for public comment can be found here.