Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

For children in termination of parental rights proceedings, Va. Code § 16.1–266(A) states:

 

Prior to the hearing by the court of any case involving a child who is alleged to be abused or neglected or who is the subject of ... a petition seeking termination of residual parental rights ... the court shall appoint a discreet and competent attorney-at-law as guardian ad litem to represent the child pursuant to § 16.1–266.1.

 

Subsection (E) adds, "In those cases described in subsections A, B, C and D, which in the discretion of the court require counsel or a guardian ad litem to represent the child or children or the parent or guardian or other adult party in addition to the representation provided in those subsections, a discreet and competent attorney-at-law may be appointed by the court as counsel or a guardian ad litem", while subsection (F) adds:

 

In all other cases which in the discretion of the court require counsel or a guardian ad litem, or both, to represent the child or children or the parent or guardian, discreet and competent attorneys-at-law may be appointed by the court. However, in cases where the custody of a child or children is the subject of controversy or requires determination and each of the parents or other persons claiming a right to custody is represented by counsel, the court shall not appoint counsel or a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the child or children unless the court finds, at any stage in the proceedings in a specific case, that the interests of the child or children are not otherwise adequately represented.

 

"[A]ny appointment of counsel in addition to a guardian ad litem is a matter left to the sound discretion of the circuit court."  Tackett v. Arlington County Dept. of Human Services, 1519-12-4, 2013 WL 4081294 (Va. Ct. App. 2013).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no