Discretionary appointment of counsel

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Court Rule or Initiative, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Children

New Jersey Rules of Court 5:8A provides:


In all cases where custody or parenting time/visitation is an issue, the court may, on the application of either party or the child or children in a custody or parenting time/visitation dispute, or on its own motion, appoint counsel on behalf of the child or children. Counsel shall be an attorney licensed to practice in the courts of the State of New Jersey and shall serve as the child's lawyer. The appointment of counsel should occur when the trial court concludes that a child's best interest is not being sufficiently protected by the attorneys for the parties. Counsel may, on an interim basis or at the conclusion of the litigation, apply for an award of fees and costs with an appropriate affidavit of services, and the trial court shall award fees and costs, assessing same against either or both of the parties.


Further, in Matter of Adoption of a Child by E.T., 302 N.J.Super. 533, 695 A.2d 734 (A.D.1997), the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey held that a court may in its discretion appoint either a law guardian or a guardian ad litem to represent the child, but stated that:


[B]efore an appointment is made, there should be an articulated showing, on notice and an opportunity of all parties to be heard, as to the need for either a guardian ad litem or law guardian in a contested adoption action. Moreover, the order of appointment should delineate, at least to the extent practical, the reasons for the appointment as a guide to the appointee of the nature of the services expected by the court to be performed. We think it plain that the appointment must not be routine but must be reserved for those actions in which the child or the court clearly requires the specific assistance the appointee can render whether as a law guardian or a guardian ad litem.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no