Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

For child welfare proceedings, W. Va. Code § 49-4-601(f) states:


(1) In any proceeding under this article, the child shall have counsel to represent his or her interests at all stages of the proceedings.
(2) The court’s initial order shall appoint counsel for the child and for any parent, guardian, custodian, or other person standing in loco parentis with the child if such person is without retained counsel.
(3) The court shall, at the initial hearing in the matter, determine whether persons other than the child for whom counsel has been appointed:
(A) Have retained counsel; and
(B) Are financially able to retain counsel.
(4) A parent, guardian, custodian, or other person standing in loco parentis with the child who is alleged to have neglected or abused the child and who has not retained counsel and is financially unable to retain counsel beyond the initial hearing, shall be afforded appointed counsel at every stage of the proceedings.
(5) Under no circumstances may the same attorney represent both the child and another party. The same attorney may not represent more than one parent or custodian: Provided, That one attorney may represent both parents or custodians where both parents or custodians consent to this representation after the attorney fully discloses to the client the possible conflict and where the attorney advises the court that she or he is able to represent each client without impairing her or his professional judgment. If more than one child from a family is involved in the proceeding, one attorney may represent all the children.
(6) A parent who is a co-petitioner is entitled to his or her own attorney.
(7) The court may allow to each attorney appointed pursuant to this section a fee in the same amount which appointed counsel can receive in felony cases.
(8) The court shall, sua sponte or upon motion, appoint counsel to any unrepresented party if, at any stage of the proceedings, the court determines doing so is necessary to satisfy the requirements of fundamental fairness.


This statutory right does not extend to pre-petition conversations between the state and the parents. In re Timber M., 743 S.E.2d 352 (W. Va. 2013)

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no