Utah becomes 27th state to guarantee counsel for parents in private termination cases
While a state may have many statutes, court decisions, or court rules governing appointment of counsel for a particular subject area, a "Key Development" is a statute/decision/rule that prevails over the others (example: a state high court decision finding a categorical right to counsel in guardianships cases takes precedence over a statute saying appointment in guardianship cases is discretionary).
03/20/2018, Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents
In 2018, the legislature amended Utah Code § 78A-6-1111(b)(2) to read,
“[T]he court shall appoint counsel designated by the county where the petition is filed to represent a parent or legal guardian facing any action initiated by a private party under Title 78A, Chapter 6, Part 5, Termination of Parental Rights Act or termination of parental rights under Section 78B-6-112, if the parent or legal guardian: (A) qualifies as indigent under Section 77-32-202; and (B) does not, after being fully advised of the right to counsel, knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive the right to counsel.”
Thus, both private termination of parental rights actions and adoptions are covered. Prior to this change, courts could appoint counsel for the parents but were not required to do so.
With this change, Utah became the 27th state to require appointment of counsel in such cases. View the lay of the land in our interactive map.
If "yes", the established right to counsel or discretionary appointment of counsel is limited in some way, including any of: the only authority is a lower/intermediate court decision or a city council, not a high court or state legislature; there has been a subsequent case that has cast doubt; a statute is ambiguous; or the right or discretionary appointment is not for all types of individuals or proceedings within that category.
Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no
The NCCRC submitted supportive testimony as the bill made it through the legislative process.