Utah becomes 27th state to guarantee counsel for parents in private termination cases

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03/20/2018, Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

In 2018, the legislature amended Utah Code § 78A-6-1111(b)(2) to read,


“[T]he court shall appoint counsel designated by the county where the petition is filed to represent a parent or legal guardian facing any action initiated by a private party under Title 78A, Chapter 6, Part 5, Termination of Parental Rights Act or termination of parental rights under Section 78B-6-112, if the parent or legal guardian: (A) qualifies as indigent under Section 77-32-202; and (B) does not, after being fully advised of the right to counsel, knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive the right to counsel.” 


Thus, both private termination of parental rights actions and adoptions are covered.  Prior to this change, courts could appoint counsel for the parents but were not required to do so.


With this change, Utah became the 27th state to require appointment of counsel in such cases.  View the lay of the land in our interactive map.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no



The NCCRC submitted supportive testimony as the bill made it through the legislative process.