Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

Mo. Ann. Stat. § 211.211 states that in all proceeedings in juvenile court, "The court shall appoint counsel for a child prior to the filing of a petition if a request is made therefor . . . and the court finds . . . that the child making the request is indigent . . . When a petition has been filed, the court shall appoint counsel for the child when necessary to assure a full and fair hearing. . . . "


The statute is difficult to parse, as it seems to suggest the child has a right to appointed counsel upon request prior to the filing of the petition, whereas post-petition the court must determine counsel is necessary for a full and fair hearing.  Mo. Ann. Stat. § 210.160 specifies that “In every case involving an abused or neglected child which results in a judicial proceeding, the judge shall appoint a guardian ad litem to appear for and represent...[a] child who is the subject of [abuse and neglect] proceedings”, and “When appointing a guardian ad litem for a child, the court shall only appoint a lawyer licensed by the Supreme Court who has completed the training required by these standards.” Mo. Sup. Ct., Standards with Comments for Guardians Ad Litem in Missouri, Standard 1.0. Thus it appears that the court must appoint an attorney-GAL for all children, but may appoint separate counsel for the child in the court’s discretion. 

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no