Discretionary appointment of counsel

Key_development Question_mark

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

In a private termination of parental rights action, the court may appoint counsel for the parents pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-318(a).


There is no mention of appoitning  counsel in the Wyoming adoption statutes, and it is unclear whether Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-318(a) also applies to adoption proceedings.  In at least one case that did not specifically deal with a parent’s right to counsel, the Supreme Court of Wyoming suggested that whether or not the termination statutes apply in the adoption context depends on how a case is prosecuted and under which statute(s) relief is requested.  See In re Adoption of JLP, 774 P.2d 624, 627 (Wyo. 1989) (“Appellant attempts to posture the case as strictly an adoption proceeding premised solely upon the adoption statutes, Wyo. Stat. §§ 1-22-101 to -116 (1977), and argues that the criteria of the termination statutes were improperly considered in the proceeding. We observe, however, that the petition for adoption requested a termination of appellant’s parental rights pursuant to the termination statutes. In addition, the termination proceeding was prosecuted separately from, although incidentally to, the adoption proceeding, and the district court properly relied upon § 14-2-309 of the termination statutes in its order terminating appellant’s parental rights.”)  On the other hand, the court has also said that termination of parental rights under the adoption code serves a different purpose that termination under the juvenile code and thus can use different processes and standards.  Matter of Adoption of RHA, 702 P.2d 1259, 1264-65 (Wyo. 1985).

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: yes