LA removes RTC loophole for children where TPR is sought due to sex offense of parent

Key_development Question_mark

05/21/2024, Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

A child has a right to counsel in all termination of parental rights (TPR) cases. 


Previously, children had the right to counsel in termination of parental rights (TPR) matters, unless the TPR was sought due to a sex offense committed by the parent resulting on conception of the child, in which case appointment was discretionary.  However, the provision was amended in 2024 by enactment of SB 39, and appointment is now mandatory for all children.  SB 39 also specifies that counsel for the child in such a matter, as well as in TPR matters generally, extends through appeal.


The updated provision, effective August 1, 2024, now provides: 


A. (1) The child and each identified parent shall have the right to be represented by separate counsel in a termination proceeding brought under this Title.  The child shall be a party to the proceedings.  Neither the child nor anyone purporting to act on his behalf shall be permitted to waive the child's right to counsel.


(2) In no event shall the petitioner of an action pursuant to Article 1015.1 [termination of parental rights of a perpetrator of a sex offense] or the child be required to interact with the respondent as a condition to pursue termination in accordance with this Article. Any counsel acting on behalf of the child shall not require a petitioner to make the child available for any visitation or conversation with the respondent or the respondent's family and shall not require any nonoffending petitioner to take classes or provide updates on the child. A petitioner shall have the right to seek an emergency supervisory writ for any violation of this Article.


B. The court shall appoint the entity designated for the jurisdiction by the Louisiana Supreme Court to provide qualified, independent counsel for the child in the proceeding.  Counsel for the child shall have the authority to represent the child throughout the termination proceeding and any appellate review.


La. Child. Code Ann. art. 1016.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no