Arkansas adds limited right to counsel for parents in adoptions

Key_development Question_mark

09/14/2021, Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

Ark. Code § 9-9-208(d) provides:


(1) A parent whose consent to adoption is required under this subchapter shall have limited, independent legal representation for the purpose of:

(A) Executing the consent to adoption; and

(B) Withdrawing the consent to adoption if the parent elects to withdraw the consent as permitted under this subchapter.

(2) The attorney:

(A) Shall not represent any other party in the adoption; 

(B) Shall certify, by signing the writing after its execution by the parent, that:

(i) The attorney has explained to the parent the effect of consenting to the adoption; and

(ii) The parent appeared to consent voluntarily and of his or her own free will.

(3) This subsection shall not apply to an adoption if the petitioner is:

(A) A stepparent whose spouse is a natural or adoptive parent of the child to be adopted;

(B) Related to the child to be adopted within the second degree as defined in § 28-9-212; or

(C) Represented by an attorney pro bono in the adoption proceeding.

Pursuant to Ark. Code § 9-9-212(5)(A), the court must also appoint an attorney (although in an ad litem role) for a parent who cannot be located for the purpose of providing them with notice of the proceeding. See also Reid v. Frazee, 966 S.W.2d 272 (1998) (once petitioners for stepparent adoption of child without consent of natural father alleged they could not locate father, his interests should have been protected by appointment of attorney ad litem, who had to make reasonable effort to locate father and serve notice).



Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes