Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

For children in abuse/neglect and termination of parental rights proceedings, Va. Code § 16.1-266(A) states:

 

Prior to the hearing by the court of any case involving a child who is alleged to be abused or neglected or who is the subject of ... a petition seeking termination of residual parental rights ... the court shall appoint a discreet and competent attorney-at-law as guardian ad litem to represent the child pursuant to § 16.1–266.1.

 

Subsection (E) adds, "In those cases described in subsections A, B, C and D, which in the discretion of the court require counsel or a guardian ad litem to represent the child or children or the parent or guardian or other adult party in addition to the representation provided in those subsections, a discreet and competent attorney-at-law may be appointed by the court as counsel or a guardian ad litem", while subsection (F) adds:

 

In all other cases which in the discretion of the court require counsel or a guardian ad litem, or both, to represent the child or children or the parent or guardian, discreet and competent attorneys-at-law may be appointed by the court. However, in cases where the custody of a child or children is the subject of controversy or requires determination and each of the parents or other persons claiming a right to custody is represented by counsel, the court shall not appoint counsel or a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the child or children unless the court finds, at any stage in the proceedings in a specific case, that the interests of the child or children are not otherwise adequately represented.

 

Additionally, for youth in foster care who voluntarily choose to continue in foster care for ages 18-21, the court may appoint counsel or a guardian ad litem for the youth if there is a petition for review of the voluntary services/support agreement.  Va. Code § 16.1-283.3.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no