Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Paternity - Defendant/Respondent

There is a right to counsel for indigent respondents in paternity proceedings. Minn. Stat. § 257.69, subd. 1. See also Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 357.03 (requiring child support magistrate to appoint attorney at public expense for indigent party that requests attorney in all cases of establishment of parentage).  The high court originally held that this statutory right extended to custody and visitation proceedings when such proceedings arise within a paternity case. Latourell v. Dempsey, 518 N.W.2d 564, 566 (Minn. 1994). However, § 257.69 was amended to say that "The representation of appointed counsel is limited in scope to the issue of establishment of parentage," and therefore, "Latourell no longer governs." In re D.F., 828 N.W.2d 138, 141 (Minn. Ct. App. 2013).

Additionally, Minnesota law provides that an indigent putative father who is on the adoption registry shall be appointed counsel at public expense when seeking to establish paternity in the context of an adoption.  Minn. Stat. § 259.52, subd. 12; Minn. R. Adopt. Proc. 23.02. 

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no