What's at Stake
Whether an indigent parent facing imprisonment for failure to pay child support is entitled to appointed counsel?
In South Carolina, indigent parents who fail to make court-ordered child support payments can be held in civil contempt and imprisoned without a lawyer. Joining with other civil rights and criminal justice organizations, the ACLU argues that indigents facing imprisonment are entitled to a court-appointed lawyer regardless of whether the proceeding is labeled civil or criminal. The brief also notes that the incarceration rate is substantially lower in states that do provide counsel under these circumstances.