Bar Associations (Baro) operate across the 81 provinces in Türkiye. As an asylum-seeker or a refugee, you have the right to approach and request legal aid from these Bar Associations for any legal dispute you may face.
Whether you may need to cover the relevant costs for legal assistance depends on your financial situation. If it is determined by the authorities that you do not have the financial capacity to hire a lawyer, you may be able to benefit from legal aid provided by the Legal Aid Bureaus under each Bar Association in Türkiye.
Legal aid is available for cases initiated against administrative decisions including inactivation of health insurance, deportation, administrative detention, rejection of international protection applications, withdrawal decisions or inadmissibility decisions as well as other cases falling under civil law (such as divorce, and custody), rent law, commercial law and labour law.
The contact information for all Bar Associations can be found on the Union of Turkish Bar Associations website.
Legal aid may also be requested from the courts. If a person explicitly states his/her legal aid request in the appeal petition, the respective court will assess the request and decide on the appointment of a lawyer under the legal aid scheme. In criminal proceedings, the court may also directly appoint a lawyer free of charge in certain circumstances.
UNHCR and its partners also provide legal counselling to refugees and can inform you of the legal aid procedures provided by the Bar Association in your province. You can seek this support from the available UNHCR offices or partners in the province where you are living or reach out to UNHCR through phone or email.
Since you have a minor child, you need to obtain full custody (çocugun velayeti). We need you to start the proceedings as soon as possible. UNHCR cannot be directly involved in the legal procedures or initiate them on your behalf. It is possible for individuals to handle their own case, but it is not recommended due various obstacles such as language barriers and lack of expertise and experience in legal procedures. Therefore, we advise you to seek legal assistance.
WHERE TO GO?
For divorce and custody lawsuits, you need to approach Legal Aid offices (Adli Yardim) in the courts/bar associations. Please note that there might not be any Legal Aid offices in your area if you are not residing in a city center or in a central district.
- If your ex-spouse is missing/you do not have any documentation proving their death, the procedure may be more complicated. There may be a period of public notification before you will be granted custody. This period can be years.
- If your marital status is registered as single on your TP/IP ID, you may still be asked to get custody of your children to facilitate exit procedures with Turkish authorities. By law, the mother has custody in such circumstances, but may still need to get a letter from the court stating this before her departure.
WHAT TO BRING:
- Your Temporary Protection or International Protection ID (kimlik).
- If you have a document which might be relevant to your suit (such as death certificate, divorce certificate, police report, WhatsApp messages), please bring them with you to the legal aid office.
- In some cases, you need to provide a document which shows that you are not capable of covering the expenses. The legal aid office will inform you about the documents and the rest of the process.
If your legal aid application is found eligible, they will help you with all of the procedures and refer you to an attorney. In order to initiate the proceedings, your attorney will ask you to issue a power of attorney at a notary that allows the lawyer to act on your behalf. Unfortunately, you need to pay for this (on average it is 700 TRY as of July 2023). Please note that all the information that you share in the Legal Aid office and with your attorney will be kept confidential and will not be shared in the court without your permission.
If your case is found ineligible, we highly recommend you hire an attorney independently.
The attorney which is assigned by the Legal Aid office cannot demand any money or goods for their work. If you are asked to pay money at any stage (except the notary fee for the power of attorney), please inform our hotline.
If you need an interpreter, please call 0312 292 59 59 (Arabic/Dari/Farsi/French). This hotline is free of charge and is funded by UNHCR and the Turkish Bar Association. If you experience any problems, please call the UNHCR hotline (444 48 68).