Tennessee legislature extends right to counsel for parents to adoption proceedings

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01/01/2009, Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

In 2009, an enacted bill (2009 Tennessee Laws Pub. Ch. 417) rewrote Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-126(a)(2)(B), and under the new provision, a parent is entitled to representation by legal counsel at all stages of any proceeding in proceedings involving termination of parental rights pursuant to § 36-1-113, which includes adoption proceedings.


Subsection (3) of § 37-1-126(a) adds:


If the person is indigent, the court shall provide counsel for the indigent person. If a person appears without counsel, the court shall ascertain whether the person knows of the right to counsel and of the right to be provided with counsel by the court if the person is indigent. The court may continue the proceeding to enable a person to obtain counsel and shall provide counsel for an unrepresented indigent person upon request.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no