Right to counsel

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

Mont. Code Ann. § 41-3-425 provides that in termination proceedings:


(1) Any party involved in a petition filed pursuant to 41-3-422 has the right to counsel in all proceedings held pursuant to the petition.

(2) Except as provided in subsections (3) and (4), the court shall immediately appoint the office of state public defender to assign counsel for:

(a) any indigent parent, guardian, or other person having legal custody of a child or youth in a removal, placement, or termination proceeding pursuant to 41-3-422, pending a determination of eligibility pursuant to 47-1-111.


A 2017 amendment to § 41-3-425 added that putative fathers must be successfully served and request appointment of counsel before counsel can be appointed, except as provided in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act or sections 1 through 18 of the Montana Child Welfare Act. Mont. Code Ann. § 41-3-425(4). 


Mont. Code § 47–1–104(4)(c) permits the court to appoint the public defender for the appeal.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no