Right to counsel

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

Cal. Fam. Code § 8606 of the Adoption Code requires that, in absence of consent, the child was either a) abandoned or b) freed from parental control in order to be available for adoption, and the latter proceedings are governed by Cal. Fam. Code § 7862, which provide a right to counsel (and which, as per Cal. Fam. Code § 7841, can be invoked by private parties).


Additionally, Cal. Fam. Code § 8800(d)(1) states that in independent adoptions, the birth parents must be notified of “their right to have an independent attorney advise and represent them in the adoption proceeding and that the prospective adoptive parents may be required to pay the reasonable attorney's fees up to a maximum of five hundred dollars ($500) for that representation, unless a higher fee is agreed to by the parties."  Subsection (e) adds, "Upon the petition or motion of any party, or upon motion of the court, the court may appoint an attorney to represent a child's birth parent or parents in negotiations or proceedings in connection with the child's adoption."


Where a parent seeks to relinquish rights to an adoption agency, Cal. Fam. Code § 8700.5(b) states:


The waiver of the right to revoke relinquishment may not be signed until the department, delegated county adoption agency, or public adoption agency of another state has completed an interview, unless the waiver is signed in the presence of a judicial officer of a court of record of any state or an authorized representative of a private adoption agency licensed within or outside of California. If the waiver is signed in the presence of a judicial officer, the interview and witnessing of the signing of the waiver shall be conducted by the judicial officer. If the waiver is signed in the presence of an authorized representative of a licensed adoption agency, the interview shall be conducted by the independent legal counsel for the birth parent or parents …


If a parent seeks to voluntarily relinquish her rights in an adoption arising within the context of a parentage action, Cal. Fam. Code § 7605(a) states:


In any proceeding to establish physical or legal custody of a child or a visitation order under this part, and in any proceeding subsequent to entry of a related judgment, the court shall ensure that each party has access to legal representation to preserve each party's rights by ordering, if necessary based on the income and needs assessments, one party, except a government entity, to pay to the other party, or to the other party's attorney, whatever amount is reasonably necessary for attorney's fees and for the cost of maintaining or defending the proceeding during the pendency of the proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes