Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Children

Pursuant to N.D. Cent. Code § 27-20-20, a petition for the termination of parental rights brought under the Juvenile Court Act may be filed by any person “who has knowledge of the facts alleged or is informed and believes they are true.” N.D. Cent. Code § 27-20-26(1) states, in relevant part:


Except as otherwise provided in this section, a party who is indigent and unable to employ legal counsel is entitled to counsel at public expense at proceedings commenced under section 27-20-30.1, and at custodial, post-petition, and informal adjustment stages of proceedings under this chapter. During the informal adjustment stage of a proceeding or in a proceeding commenced under section 27-20-30.1 only the child, if determined to be indigent, is entitled to counsel at public expense… Counsel must be provided for a child who is under the age of eighteen years and is not represented by the child's parent, guardian, or custodian at custodial, post-petition, and informal adjustment stages of proceedings under this chapter. If the interests of two or more parties conflict, separate counsel must be provided for each of them.


N.D. Cent. Code § 27-20-26(3) clarifies that “party” includes “the child, and the child’s parent, legal guardian, or custodian…”


Appointment of counsel for children in Adoption Act proceedings is on a case-by-case basis. N.D. Cent. Code § 14-09-06.4, which governs the parent-child relationship, states in relevant part:


[I]n any action when the parenting rights and responsibilities concerning the child is contested, either party to the action may petition the court for appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the child concerning parenting rights and responsibilities. The court may appoint a guardian ad litem or investigator on its own motion.


N.D.R.Ct. 8.7 clarifies “[t]o qualify as a guardian ad litem under N.D.C.C. § 14-09-06.4, a person must be an attorney licensed in the state of North Dakota.”

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes