Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Litigation, Custody Disputes - Children

In a set of cases, New Jersey courts have found that children in contested custody proceedings should be provided with independent counsel. Doe v. Div. of Youth & Family Servs., 398 A.2d 562 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1979) (removal of child from foster parents and return to natural parents); Wilke v. Culp, 483 A.2d 420 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1984) (visitation of natural father; child was "represented" by stepfather's counsel); Matter of Adoption of Mercado, 442 A.2d 1078 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1982) (involuntary adoption). The courts in these cases did not state the basis for their holdings, although they appeared to fall under the same "fundamental fairness" test used in other cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes