Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

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

R.I. Stat § 15-7-5 provides various adoption scenarios in which the consent of the parents is not required (usually where the parent is not the custodian of the child at the time of the petition for adoption), but no right to counsel is provided.  There is a right to counsel for abuse/neglect proceedings, R.I. Stat § 40-11-7.1, but it is not applicable to the separate adoption proceedings.  However, RI Gen. Laws 14-1-31 (entitled “Proceedings in family court” within the “Delinquent and Dependent Children” chapter) states, “Prior to the commencement of any hearing, the justice shall advise the parent … that if he or she is financially unable to engage counsel, he or she is entitled to the services of the public defender.”  This provision is not self-limiting to Title 14 proceedings, so it is possible it applies to Title 15 proceedings as well.  Additionally, R. Juv. P., Rule 18 provides for appointment of counsel in contested termination of parental rights proceedings, and it appears it applies to the adoption statute since adoptions are the way that even the state terminates parental rights.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes