Can you hire a public defender to doa divorce?

Asked on October 26, 2011 under Family Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can certainly go to an attorney who is a public defender and offer to hire him or her for a divorce or for any other purpose; if the attorney is interested and his or her contracts or terms of employment with the public defenders office don't prohibit this, he or she can take the representation. If you mean can you hire the public defender's office--no; they do not work for private clients. And if you mean do you have a right to a free attorney through the public defender's office, then the answer is also no--the Constitution only guarantees the right to an attorney in criminal cases, not in civil cases, including divorce. There is no right to a free lawyer for a divorce.

So, you really only have two options if you want an attorney: 1) hire one, including an attoreny from the public defender's office  if you like/trust/etc. him or her and she can do it under his or her working arrangements and is interested; or 2) contact the state and county bar assocation and see if they can possibly refer you to an attorney will take the case for free on a pro bono basis--it's not often you can find a pro bono lawyer, but it happens sometimes, and you can always ask.


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