Right to counsel

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Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

Courts are required by statute to appoint counsel for parents (including certain alleged fathers) in actions by governmental agencies seeking to terminate parental rights (“TPR”) or install a temporary managing conservator of a child. Specifically, Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 107.013(a) provides:

 

(a)  In a suit filed by a governmental entity under Subtitle E in which termination of the parent-child relationship or the appointment of a conservator for a child is requested, the court shall appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of:

 

(1)  an indigent parent of the child who responds in opposition to the termination or appointment;

 

(2) a parent served by citation by publication;

 

(3)  an alleged father who failed to register with the registry under Chapter 160 and whose identity or location is unknown; and

 

(4)  an alleged father who registered with the paternity registry under Chapter 160, but the petitioner’s attempt to personally serve citation at the address provided to the registry and at any other address for the alleged father known by the petitioner has been unsuccessful.

 

A new provision, § 107.0141, permits appointment of a temporary attorney ad litem “for a limited period beginning at the time the court issues a temporary restraining order or attachment of the parent's child under Chapter 262 and ending on the court's determination of whether the parent is indigent before commencement of the full adversary hearing.”  See also Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 262.102(d), 262.201(a)(1) (requiring notice to parent of right to counsel in when managing conservator sought).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes