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How to Get a Free Family Law Attorney on Long Island

by | May 29, 2018 | Family Law Attorney, Family Law Lawyer, News and Events

Mandated Counsel or 18b Attorneys

In certain Family Court proceedings on Long Island, a party may be entitled to an assigned attorney. This “mandated counsel” is typically referred to as an 18b Attorney. These appointed attorneys are a vital part of Family Court and are critical in protecting certain parental fundamental rights.

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Statutory Authorization

Both statutory and constitutional law require that New York State provide counsel to certain individuals financially unable to obtain an attorney. Specifically, in Suffolk County, such assigned counsel is provided under the Suffolk County Assigned Counsel Defender Plan pursuant to County Law Article 18-B, which is where these attorneys get their nickname.

When dealing with Family Court proceedings in particular, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that “an indigent parent, faced with the loss of a child’s society, as well as the possibility of criminal charges is entitled to the assistance of counsel.” In re Ella B., 30 N.Y.2d 352 (1972). The court went on to further emphasize the importance of a parents’ right to the custody and care of their children. The court declared that failure to provide a parent with a lawyer would violate the Constitution. The New York State Legislature went on to codify this right in a range of family law proceedings. These cases range from those involving custody and visitation, to abuse/neglect, termination of parental rights, and family offense proceedings.

Do these Attorneys Only Work in Family Court?

While for the purposes of our practice, we only run into 18b Attorneys in Family Court, 18b Attorneys also handle many other kinds of cases. 18b Attorneys are also critical players in criminal proceedings. They represent indigent defendants in felonies and misdemeanors, including murder cases. These attorneys can also represent defendants in appellate cases.

These attorneys can also be appointed in actions involving State intervention. An 18b Attorney can represent parties in actions involving the State, such as child protective, foster care, and termination of parental rights proceedings.

Obtaining an 18b Attorney

Typically, judges determine who is eligible for an 18b Attorney. Therefore, in order to have an 18b Attorney appointed to you, the judge must first make a determination that you are indigent and cannot afford to hire a private attorney.

What kind of Requirements are Necessary to be an 18b Attorney?

Usually, in order to be placed on the 18b Panel, the Attorney must have participated on multiple occasions in any of the following:

  • Permanent Neglect Proceeding
  • Neglect
  • Termination of Parental Rights
  • Custody/Visitation
  • Support Proceeding
  • Litigated Paternity
  • Family Offense
  • Contested Adoption

Have More Questions About Family Court? Contact Us

If you have further questions regarding your Family Court proceedings, we can help. Contact our Long Island Divorce & Family Law firm at 631-629-2545 to set up your free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Call 631-923-1910 or fill in the form below

Schedule your complimentary consultation and case evaluation with our experienced attorneys today. When you call, you’ll speak to our friendly Client Services Director, who will be able to answer your general questions and set up your appointment with an attorney who specializes in your unique case.

At your meeting, your attorney will describe the many options available and determine together which is the right solution for you. By the end of this meeting we’ll all understand how we can best help you to move forward.

No Cost or Obligation

There is no cost or obligation for this initial consultation. It is simply an opportunity for us to get to know each other, answer your questions and learn if Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. is right the right law firm for you. Give us a call at 631-923-1910 or fill in the short form below to schedule your free consultation and case evaluation.

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Everett Roberts
Everett Roberts
14:30 18 Mar 20
Going through a divorce was very challenging and emotional. Searching for an attorney can be challenging as well when you consider everything that is at stake. The choice I made to work with Rob Hornberger was surely the best choice available. His professionalism, expertise, and understanding made him and the entire team perfectly suited to achieve the outcomes I desired. Rob was always available to answer my questions and give me advice and legal considerations that affected my situation. The support I received from his staff was exemplary as well. The staff was courteous, kind, and also very professional. Thank you so much Rob and team for a worry free experience.
Annemarie Cusumano
Annemarie Cusumano
21:41 17 Mar 20
Being in family court especially when your children are on the line is extremely emotional and stressful but working with Robert and Christine put me at ease and made the process as pleasant as a situation like that can be. I have a now 3 year old daughter (who is the most important person in my life) and I've been working with them for over two years since my daughter was 7 months old, the case has been up and down and through it all Rob and Christine have never given up. My original case was due to a neglect charge. Cps is not easy to work with, but Rob and Christine were vigilant and I ended up getting my daughter back within 8 months and did not have to plead guilty to the neglect. Currently I am in family court to figure out a custody agreement. They are professional, empathetic, and patient. They have always explained everything thoroughly, informed me of all my options and advised me of what my best option would be. They always respond quickly when I contact them with questions or concerns and most importantly they fight for me in court and don't give up even when things get rough. Before hiring Rob and Christine I met with other attorneys who did not make me feel confident or comfortable at all about my case, so I am very grateful to have found Rob and Christine and to be represented by such great attorneys. I highly recommend them for any family court matters and will definitely continue to use them in the future if needed.
Steven Frierman
Steven Frierman
02:25 07 Mar 20
After meeting with 3 different lawyers, we felt Robert understood us best and he genuinely had our best interests at heart. This helped us resolve a few minor issues in a timely fashion and make a potentially stressful situation go more smoothly.Thank you
Randi Gottlieb
Randi Gottlieb
18:47 03 Mar 20
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. - Mr. Robert Hornberger and his staff are beyond professional, they quickly gave me my consultation appointment, and helped me with an after-Divorce issue. Mr. Hornberger was empathetic and explained to me what I should expect. Mr. Hornberger was extremely professional and advised me of my options, he helped me proceed with accurate and smart decisions. I wish I had Mr. Hornberger and his highly recommended staff when I was getting divorced. I would highly recommend Robert and his staff to anyone who is getting a divorce or in need of help with situations after the divorce!
Rob Spielmann
Rob Spielmann
22:15 27 Feb 20
They made our process so easy. They were there to answer and help with any questions that came up. Very friendly


  • I have known Robert for more than 8 eight years. Robert has represented many of my family and friends. Each and every one has raved about Robert’s professionalism and expertise. He is knowledgable, friendly and truly cares about his clients. I would not hesitate to continue to refer Robert and his firm in the future!
  • I’ve known Robert for most of my life, and feel very fortunate that I have been able to turn to a good friend for various kinds of legal advice. He is very intelligent, straight forward, and professional. Most importantly though, Robert always finds the fastest resolution, and will not waste your time or money. He is NOT in the habit of dragging things through litigation if there is no need for the added expense. I have referred a few of my friends to Robert, and they have all been more than satisfied in their experience with him. Highly recommend!!



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