Utah authorizes appointment of counsel in private termination cases

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03/22/2016, Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

Utah Code Ann. § 78A-6-1111(2) provides that "Counsel appointed by the court may not provide representation as court-appointed counsel for a parent or legal guardian in any action initiated by, or in any proceeding to modify court orders in a proceeding initiated by, a private party", but in 2016, the Legislature added the phrase, "except that in a private action to terminate parental rights the court may appoint counsel to represent an indigent parent if it finds that the failure to appoint counsel will result in a deprivation of due process."


Note that in Utah, "private terminations" under the juvenile code are legally distinct proceedings from adoptions.  B.W.G. v. T.G., 167 P.3d 1099, 1101 (Utah App. 2007) (stating that “As we recently explained, the Adoption Act and the juvenile code are separate, self-standing statutory schemes, and the Adoption Act does not incorporate, in wholesale fashion, the provisions of the juvenile code”).  Consequently, the new provision would not apply to adoptions.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no