New Jersey Supreme Court To Rule On Indigent Parent Case
New Jersey Supreme Court to rule on indigent parent case
The Supreme Court in New Jersey is scheduled to rule on a case involving an indigent mother and her right to an attorney in a child custody case. A lower court has ruled that indigent parents who are facing lawsuits from private parties regarding child custody have a right to counsel; if the Supreme Court agrees, it could be a landmark decision for family law in the state.
The case in question arose when a poor mother decided that she could not properly care for her daughter, who had special needs. The mother wrestled with the idea of adoption before deciding on temporary foster care. She sought help from a private agency, who placed the girl with a family that could offer her more financial advantages.
Because she lived in another state for a time and had other children, the financially struggling biological mother could not afford to make regular visits to see her daughter. The foster family filed suit to have the mother’s parental rights terminated, which results in a judge doing so. The decision was made even though the biological mother did not have an attorney.
According to reports, there were no findings of neglect, abuse, mental incompetence on the part of the mother or drug or alcohol abuse, which are all reasons a child might be taken by state authorities from parents. The mother objected to the foster family adopting her child, and she appealed the lower court’s decision.
An attorney began working with the mother on a pro bono basis, and the state appeals court ruled that the mother must have counsel and ordered a new trial. The matter is being brought now before the Supreme Court, and the outcome could become an important case for any parent who is struggling financially while going through custody battles.
Source: NorthJersey.com, “N.J. Supreme Court to hear child custody case involving indigent mother,” Salvador Rizzo, Dec. 21, 2015