Defending the Family: The Need for Legal Representation in Child-Welfare Proceedings

More than half of Mississippi parents who walk into family court don’t have a lawyer.

Column (Mississippi)

Rachel Blustain
Nation, The
January 16, 2018

Tags: Child Custody, Children & Juvenile

Organizations mentioned/involved: American Bar Association (ABA), Mission First (MS), Families as Allies (MS), Center for Family Representation (NYC)


About 75 percent of poor parents in Mississippi walk into child-welfare proceedings without legal representation; it’s one of two states—Wisconsin is the other—where a majority of parents do not have a lawyer in these types of cases.

In court, parents face a lawyer for the state and a lawyer representing the interests of the child. But, with the future of their families on the line, parents are left to advocate for themselves in an adversarial system in which they have no training.