Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Children

In any proceeding to have a minor child declared free from the custody and control of either or both parents (which is one of the two possible avenues for adoption, and which can be invoked by private parties as per Cal. Fam. Code § 7841), the court “shall” appoint counsel to represent a dependent child unless it finds no benefit in doing so.  Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 366.26(f)(1).  


A minor child in such a proceeding who has not previously been adjudicated as dependent will be appointed counsel only at the discretion of the court.  Cal. Fam. Code § 7861 (“The court shall consider whether the interests of the child require the appointment of counsel. If the court finds that the interests of the child require representation by counsel, the court shall appoint counsel to represent the child, whether or not the child is able to afford counsel.”)

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes