In re Christian M. & In re Alexander M.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Court: Supreme Court of New Hampshire
Topic: Parent's right to counsel in child welfare cases
On July 1, 2011, the New Hampshire legislature eliminated funding for court appointed lawyers to represent indigent parents in child welfare cases. The issue before the Court is whether the New Hampshire Constitution permits the state to deprive parents of the right to counsel in cases in which the state forcibly removes children from the custody of their parents. The brief argues that providing parents with the right to counsel is necessary to prevent an erroneous deprivation of a liberty interest. Additionally, errors made in the initial custody deprivation can affect subsequent decisions throughout the case including the final termination of parental rights decision. Finally, parents' counsel play a crucial role in reducing errors in child welfare cases.
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