Tom Appeals Blog

News and Observations About Law and Society

"As long as I have any choice, I will stay only in a country where political liberty, toleration, and equality of all citizens before the law are the rule." - Albert Einstein

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Holds Children Have Right to Counsel in Some Parental Termination Cases

Posted: January 30, 2012 Filed under: Case Law, Commentary

In Adoption of Meaghan, SJC-10915 (Mass. Jan. 30, 2012), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court determined that children have a right to counsel in private, contested adoption proceedings. “The decision whether or not to terminate is of enormous consequence to the child. The child cannot have a meaningful opportunity to be heard in a contested proceeding without the assistance of counsel, regardless whether the case is initiated by the department or other agency or by a private party.” Those interested in the opinion can link to it through THIS website.

Stakeholders in Florida have debated for years which model of legal representation best serves the rights and interests of children and youth. This Massachusetts decision will likely cause reverberations statewide for several years to come.

Admitted: Florida, Kansas, New Mexico (inactive)