Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Case Law Development: No Need for Independent Counsel for Children in TPR Action if Children Do Not Consistently Disagree with GAL Recommendations
The Ohio Court of Appeals held that when the children who are the subject of a juvenile court proceeding to terminate parental rights do not express a consistent wish for placement contrary to the recommendation of their guardian ad litem, it is not necessary for the trial court to appoint independent counsel for the children. The court noted that courts should conduct an in-camera, recorded, interview with the child to determine whether independent counsel is needed whenever a child's wishes are in conflict with the child's GAL's recommendation. Courts should take into account "the maturity of the child and the possibility of the child's guardian ad litem (GAL) being appointed to represent the child." Because the magistrate in this case complied with these requirements and because the children were inconsistent in their expressed desire to live with their mother, the court of appeals found no error in refusing to appoint separate counsel for them.
In re Graham, 2006 Ohio 3170 (June 23, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited June 26, 2006 bgf)