Discretionary appointment of counsel

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Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

Haw. Rev. Stat. § 587A-17(a) provides that the court may appoint counsel for any "party" in an abuse/neglect proceeding if it is in the child's best interest, and § 587A-4 defines "party" to include the child.


The court is required to "appoint a guardian ad litem for a child throughout the pendency of child protective proceedings under this chapter" Haw. Rev. Stat. § 587A-16(a), whose responsibilities include "inform[ing] the court of the child's opinions and requests." Haw. Rev. Stat. § 587A-16(c)(6).  If "the child's opinions and requests differ from those being advocated by the guardian ad litem, the court shall evaluate and determine whether it is in the child's best interests to appoint an attorney to serve as the child's legal advocate concerning such issues and during such proceedings as the court deems to be in the best interests of the child." Haw. Rev. Stat. § 587A-16(c)(6).


It should also be noted that attorneys’ fees in child protective proceedings are capped at $3,000 before disposition and $1000 for post-disposition review.  Haw. Rev. Stat. § 571-87(b) (2008).  Capping the compensation at such a low amount significantly reduces the effectiveness of the right to counsel.  Laura K. Abel and Max Rettig, State Statutes Providing for a Right to Counsel in Civil Cases, Clearinghouse Rev. J. Poverty L. & Pol’y. (July-August 2006). 

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no