1.) Does a parent need to do anything to obtain a GAL for a child in Dependency Court?
No. The court will appoint a GAL at the Shelter Care Hearing. The GAL and social worker will appear on behalf of the child at the Shelter Care Hearing. The GAL and social worker will team the case. They will have all the relevant information, including petitions and facts prior to the hearing. Additionally, the social worker will interview the child, when age appropriate, prior to the Shelter Care Hearing.
2.) Does a parent need to pay for a GAL?
No. A parent does not pay for a GAL in Dependency Court for their child.
3.) Am I as a parent entitled to representation?
Yes. All parents are entitled to representation in Dependency Court. A parent should call Legal Aid upon receipt of a Dependency Petition. Instructions are included with the Dependency Petition.
4.) If I am an incarcerated parent can I obtain representation?
Yes. All parents, even incarcerated parents, are entitled to legal representation in Dependency Court. Legal Aid cannot represent an incarcerated parent due to their by-laws. Nonetheless, an incarcerated parent must contact Legal Aid, request representation, and ask for conflict counsel to be appointed. Legal Aid will file a Motion for the Appointment of Conflict Counsel.
5.) What if a parent does not want counsel initially but later changes his/her mind?
At any time during the Dependency Court proceedings, a parent can request that the court appoint counsel.