Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

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

In Matter of K.L.J., the Alaska Supreme Court held that indigent parents have a right to counsel under the Alaska Constitution whenever someone seeks to bypass their consent to adoption under Alaska Stat. § 25.23.050(a)813 P.2d 276, 278 (Alaska 1991).

In reaching its conclusion, the Court applied the balancing test from Mathews v. Eldridge424 U.S. 319, 335 (1976) to determine what process was due. Matter of K.L.J., 813 P.2d at 279.  The Court reasoned:  “The private interest of a parent whose parental rights may be terminated via an adoption petition is of the highest magnitude.” Id. at 279.  It also found sufficient state involvement required to invoke due process, Id. at 283.  And that “due process requires that” an “indigent natural parent be appointed an attorney to assist him in demonstrating why his consent to the adoption of his child should not be rendered unnecessary.” Id. at 286.


Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no