Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

For termination of parental rights proceedings, KRS § 625.080(2) states that “a guardian ad litem shall be appointed to represent the best interests of the child,” but no makes no mention of “counsel.”  However, the Supreme Court of Kentucky has interpreted guardian ad litem to mean counsel:


This statute does not refer to the attorney appointed to represent the child as a guardian ad litem. In termination actions, however, both voluntary, KRS § 625.041, and involuntary, KRS § 625.080, a “guardian ad litem” must be appointed “to represent the best interests of the child.” The GAL's fee is likewise limited to $500 and is paid, if the Cabinet of Health and Family Services is the proposed custodian, by the Finance and Administration Cabinet. The different terminology does not appear to reflect a substantive distinction, and indeed CR 17.03(5), addressing GAL reimbursement, expressly provides that “fees allowed to counsel for children ... in dependency, abuse or neglect cases ... shall not exceed the amounts specified in KRS § 620.100.” In any event, it is clear that in practice the attorney appointed to represent the child in a DNA action, or, as in this case, in a domestic custody proceeding, is commonly thought of and referred to as a “guardian ad litem.”


Morgan v. Getter, 441 S.W.3d 94, 109 n.6 (2014).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes