Right to counsel

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Litigation, Custody Disputes - Birth Parents

An Alaska Superior Court held in 2007 that indigent parents have a due process right to counsel in custody cases if their opponent is represented, even if that representation is not state funded, at least where there are allegations that any visitation should be supervised. The court relied on Flores v. Flores, 598 P.2d 893, 895 (Alaska 1979), which had found a right to counsel in custody cases where the opponent is represented by a state-funded agency.

 

On appeal (where the case caption became OPS v. ACS), the Alaska Supreme Court declined to review the ruling because the appeal focused on who was responsible for payment; no party contested the actual appointment of counsel. Nonetheless, the appeal was heavily briefed. To see the Alaska Supreme Court case documents, check out our comprehensive bibliography section on the case.

Cite: Gordanier v. Jonsson, Case No. 3AN-06-8887 CI (Alaska Super. Ct. August 14, 2007)

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes