Right to counsel

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06/26/2023, Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

Right to counsel for indigent parents and guardians

"At the commencement of any proceeding on behalf of a neglected, uncared-for or abused child or youth, the parent or parents or guardian of the child or youth shall have the right to counsel, and shall be so informed by the judge, and that if they are unable to afford counsel, counsel will be provided for them.”  Conn. Stat. § 46b-135(b).  Conn. Stat. § 46b-129(b) governs notice to parents of their right to appointed counsel.


See also §§ 46b-136 (“In any proceeding in a juvenile matter, the judge before whom such proceeding is pending shall, even in the absence of a request to do so, provide an attorney to represent the … child’s or youth’s parent or parents or guardian, or other person having control of the child or youth, if such judge determines that the interests of justice so require… and in any proceeding in which the custody of a child is at issue, such judge … may authorize such attorney or appoint another attorney to represent such … parent, guardian or other person on an appeal from a decision in such proceeding”); 46b-129(c) (“The preliminary hearing on the order of temporary custody or order to appear or the first hearing on a petition filed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall be held in order for the court to: …  (1)  Advise the parent or guardian of the allegations contained in all petitions and applications that are the subject of the hearing and the parent’s or guardian’s right to counsel pursuant to subsection (b) of section 46b-135 … (3) Upon request, appoint an attorney to represent the respondent when the respondent is unable to afford representation, in accordance with subsection (b) of section 51-296a”); 51-296(c) (establishing guidelines for attorneys appointed for parents); 51-296a(b) (“The judicial authority before whom a family relations matter described in subparagraph (A) of subdivision (1) of subsection (c) of section 51-296 is pending shall determine eligibility for counsel for … the parents or guardian of a child or youth if they are unable to afford counsel. Upon a finding that a party is unable to afford counsel, the judicial authority shall appoint an attorney to provide representation from a list of qualified attorneys provided by the office of Chief Public Defender”); Conn. Practice Book 1998, § 33a-7 (“At the preliminary hearing on the order of temporary custody or order to appear, or at the first hearing on a petition for neglect, uncared for, dependency, or termination of parental rights, the judicial authority shall … advise the respondents of their right to counsel and their right to have counsel assigned if they are unable to afford representation…”).


Right to counsel for indigent parents and Indian custodians of Indian children

In 2023, Connecticut enacted the Connecticut Indian Child Welfare Act, which provides:


In any child custody proceeding in which the state court determines indigency, the parent or Indian custodian shall have the right to court-appointed counsel in any removal, placement or termination proceeding...

See SB 1204.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no