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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XVII PUBLIC WELFARE
  • CHAPTER 119 PROTECTION AND CARE OF CHILDREN, AND PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THEM
  • Section 29 Right to counsel; notice of right; court appointed counsel

Section 29. The following persons shall have and shall be informed of the right to counsel, and the court shall appoint counsel for all such persons if the person is not able to retain counsel: (i) an adult who is under the responsibility of the department under clause (1) of subsection (a) of section 23; (ii) a child who is before the court under clauses (1) and (3) of said subsection (a) of said section 23, sections 24 to 27, inclusive, or section 29B; (iii) a child in a custody proceeding where the department or a licensed placement agency is a party; and (iv) any young adult to whom subsection (f) of section 23 applies.

Whenever the department or a licensed child placement agency is a party to child custody proceedings, the parent, guardian or custodian of the child, or a parent or guardian of an adult who is the responsibility of the department under clause (3) of subsection (a) of section 23: (i) shall have and be informed of the right to counsel at all such hearings, including proceedings under sections 5-201, 5-204 or 5-206 of chapter 190B, and that the court shall appoint counsel if the parent, guardian or custodian is financially unable to retain counsel; and (ii) shall have and be informed of the right to a service plan or case plan for the child and the child’s family, or an adult who is the responsibility of the department under clause (3) of subsection (a) of section 23, which complies with applicable state and federal laws and regulations for these plans. Any young adult to whom subsection (f) of section 23 applies is also entitled to such service plan or case plan. The probate and family court and the juvenile court departments of the trial court shall establish procedures for: (i) notifying the parent, guardian or custodian of these rights; and (ii) appointing counsel for an indigent parent, guardian or custodian within 14 days of a licensed child placement agency filing or appearing as a party in any such action. The department or agency shall provide a copy of the service or case plan to the parent, guardian or custodian of the child or of an adult who is the responsibility of the department under clause (3) of subsection (a) of section 23, or to an adult who is the responsibility of the department under clause (3) of subsection (a) of section 23 or section 5-305 of chapter 190B, or any young adult to whom subsection (f) of section 23 applies and to the attorneys for all parties appearing in the proceeding within 45 days of the department or agency filing an appearance in such proceeding. Thereafter, any party may have the original or changed plan introduced as evidence, and with the consent of all parties the plan shall be filed with the court. Notwithstanding this section, the court may make such temporary orders as may be necessary to protect the adult who is under the responsibility of the department under clause (3) of subsection (a) of section 23 or the child and society.

The department, upon its request, shall be represented by the district attorney for the district in which the case is being heard.