South Carolina court extends statutory right to counsel to private TPR cases

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06/03/2013, Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

In Broom v. Jennifer J., 742 S.E.2d 382 (S.C. 2013), the Supreme Court of South Carolina extended the reach of § 63-7-2560 to termination petitions filed by a private party. The court said:


Here, Mother was denied counsel because the TPR action was a private action rather than one filed by DSS. However, Section 63–7–2560(A) makes no distinction based on the party seeking the termination of parental rights. Rather, it provides that any indigent parent subject to "a termination of parental rights proceeding" must be provided counsel. S.C.Code § 63–7–2560(A). Thus, the denial of counsel was erroneous.


In cases involving relinquishment of parental rights for adoption, § 63-9-320(A)(2) specifies that while consent is not required for mentally incapable parents in certain 

circumstances, the court "shall appoint a guardian ad litem for an incompetent parent for whom there has been no prior appointment and shall appoint independent counsel for an incompetent parent who is indigent. However, upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement for the appointment of independent counsel for an incompetent and indigent parent."

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no