Texas

This page provides a breakdown of all major developments and right to counsel law that the NCCRC knows for this state, sorted by subject area. Click on either tab below to see the aspect it describes.

Color Key Explanation
Categorical Right To Counsel There is a right to counsel without qualification for all indigent individuals in this type of case (except that the individual may be required to request counsel).
Discretionary Appointment Of Counsel Courts are permitted but not required to appoint counsel for any indigent individual in this type of case. A request may be required.
Right Or Appointment Is Qualified The established right to counsel or discretionary appointment of counsel is limited in some way, including: the only authority comes from a lower/intermediate court decision or a city government, not a high court or state legislature; a case has cast doubt on prior authority; a statute is ambiguous; or the right or discretionary appointment is not for all individuals or proceedings within that type of case.
No Such Proceeding This state has no law creating a judicial proceeding of this type.
None While this state does not provide for or require appointment of counsel with respect to the given subject area, it does have something (such as a report or bar policy) that supports the right to or appointment of counsel for this subject area.
Other Because the "Other subject areas” category can include developments from different subject areas that do not work the same way as each other, a blanket categorization of this category is not possible.

Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

Legislation

Texas enacts law expanding right to counsel for parents

06/02/2015

A Texas law enacted in 2015 provides for appointment of counsel for unknown/unlocatable parents and provides earlier notice to other parents.

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Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent parents are entitled to counsel in abuse/neglect cases where the state seeks to install a temporary managing conservator.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Litigation

TX Sup. Ct: parental right to counsel in abuse/neglect cases extends to high court appeal

04/01/2016

The Supreme Court of Texas held that a parent's right to counsel in child welfare cases extends to an appeal to the high court.

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Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

Legislation

Legislation (dead): child in conservatorship proceedings

05/21/2017

This dead bill would have required an attorney ad litem for a child in conservatorships to continue until the conservatorship ends.

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon The NCCRC submitted testimony and worked on the bill language.

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Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Children have a right to counsel in abuse/neglect cases where the state seeks to install a temporary managing conservator.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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All Basic Human Needs

Legislation

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel in any civil case.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel: service by publication

A court must appoint counsel for a defendant who is served by publication and does not answer.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Litigation

Discretionary appointment of counsel

The Texas Supreme Court has said trial courts have inherent power to appoint in any civil case if exceptional circumstances exist.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: yes

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Bypass of Parental Input into Abortion - Minor

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A court must appoint counsel for a minor seeking to bypass the parental consent and notification requirements for an abortion

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Civil Contempt in Family Court

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for an indigent respondent in a child support civil contempt proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Right to counsel

Some appellate courts have found a federal constitutional right to counsel for the respondent in a civil contempt proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for the subject of court-ordered mental health services, including commitment.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Right to counsel

Several appellate courts have found a federal constitutional right to counsel in civil commitment proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Custody Disputes - Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

The court may appoint counsel for a parent in any proceeding where the interests of the child are at issue.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Court Rule or Initiative

Discretionary appointment of counsel

The court may appoint counsel for a parent claiming violation of a child visitation order.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: yes

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Custody Disputes - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

The court may appoint counsel for a child in any proceeding where the interests of the child are at issue.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Domestic Violence - Accused Person

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

One appellate court determined that constitutional appointment of counsel for respondents in protective order cases is on a case-by-case basis.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: yes

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Domestic Violence - Alleged Victim

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

One appellate court concluded that petitioners in DV cases have a right to counsel.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The court must appoint a lawyer for the subject of a guardianship proceeding, but the lawyer serves in an ad litem capacity.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Incarceration for Fees/Fines (incomplete)

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is an arguable statutory right to counsel for an indigent respondent in a civil contempt proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Some appellate courts have found a federal constitutional right to counsel for the respondent in a civil contempt proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Involuntary Medical Treatment

Legislation

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for the subject of court-ordered mental health services, including commitment.

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Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Texas law requires the court to appoint counsel for an individual subjected to involuntary treatment for a “chemical dependency.”

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Sexually Dangerous Persons - Commitment

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for an indigent respondent in a sexually violent persons commitment proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Texas court: when parents square off in private termination case, kids must have counsel

03/23/2018

A statute requires counsel for a child in a termination case unless their interests are adequately represented by another party.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Children have a right to counsel in state-initiated termination of parental rights proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel for the parent in a privately-initiated termination of parental rights proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent parents have a right to counsel in state-initiated termination of parental rights cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

TX Sup Ct: parental right to counsel in termination cases extends to high court appeal

04/01/2016

The Supreme Court of Texas held that a parent's right to counsel in termination of parental rights cases extends to an appeal to the high court.

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Truancy - Petition Against Child

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Texas decriminalizes truancy, adds appointment of counsel provision

06/18/2015

In 2015, Texas decriminalized truancy, prevented initial incarceration, and permitted the court to appoint counsel for the child.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: yes

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Other Subject Areas

Legislation

Discretionary appointment of counsel - probate cases

A court may appoint counsel for a variety of people in probate proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: yes

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Court Rule or Initiative

Discretionary appointment of counsel - petitioner in civil contempt

The court may appoint counsel for the petitioner claiming violation of an order “for child support or possession of or access to a child.”

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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