“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
These are the basic rights afforded to all Americans arrested for a criminal act. Once requested, an attorney must be provided before any further questioning can proceed. This is not the case, however, when the legal matter is civil in nature. Neither the Courts nor the Constitution guarantee one's right to legal representation in most matters related to child custody, eviction, probate, divorce, immigration, or any number of other civil or family issues. Organizations like the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel are calling attention to the increasingly dire need for legal representation in civil cases. Everyone will require the services of a lawyer at some time in his or her life, and access to legal counsel should not be impeded by an inability to afford representation.