Right to counsel

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Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

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


(1) In any proceeding under this article, the child, his or her parents and his or her legally established custodian or other persons standing in loco parentis to him or her has the right to be represented by counsel at every stage of the proceedings and shall be informed by the court of their right to be so represented and that if they cannot pay for the services of counsel, that counsel will be appointed.

(2) Counsel shall be appointed in the initial order. For parents, legal guardians, and other persons standing in loco parentis, the representation may only continue after the first appearance if the parent or other persons standing in loco parentis cannot pay for the services of counsel.

(3) Counsel for other parties shall only be appointed upon request for appointment of counsel. If the requesting parties have not retained counsel and cannot pay for the services of counsel, the court shall, by order entered of record, appoint an attorney or attorneys to represent the other party or parties and so inform the parties.

(4) Under no circumstances may the same attorney represent both the child and the other party or parties, nor may the same attorney represent both parents or custodians. However, one attorney may represent both parents or custodians where both parents or guardians consent to this representation after the attorney fully discloses to the client the possible conflict and where the attorney assures the court that she or he is able to represent each client without impairing her or his professional judgment; however, if more than one child from a family is involved in the proceeding, one attorney may represent all the children.

(5) A parent who is a copetitioner is entitled to his or her own attorney. The court may allow to each attorney so appointed a fee in the same amount which appointed counsel can receive in felony cases.


Also, when the state is placing a child outside the home through a voluntary placement agreement with the parents, the child has a mandatory right to counsel. W. Va. Code § 49-2-16.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no