Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

NMSA 1978, § 32A-5-16(E) provides that in proceedings to terminate parental rights in connection with adoption, "[t]he court shall, upon request, appoint counsel for an indigent parent who is unable to obtain counsel or if, in the court's discretion, appointment of counsel for an indigent parent is required in the interest of justice. Payment for the appointed counsel shall be made by the petitioner pursuant to the rate determined by the supreme court of New Mexico for court-appointed attorneys." 


Section 32A-5-16(E) has been interpreted by New Mexico courts to apply to adoptions involving a non-consenting birth parent. See, e.g., Coyne v. Olson, No. 30,889, 2012 WL 2326042, at *1 (N.M. Ct. App. May 14, 2012) (unpublished) (citing Section 32A-5-16(E) for “providing a parent opposing termination or adoption with the right to counsel”); In re Homer F., 146 N.M. 845, 851; 215 P.3d 783, 789 (interpreting Section 32A-5-16(E) in the context of a father contesting an adoption proceeding initiated by the child’’s grandparents).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no