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Mother wins first step in child custody fight

The vast majority of Colorado custody battles feature two parents who cannot come to terms over the care and custody of a shared child. Not every child custody case, however, meets that standard. In a recent high profile case, a mother lost custody of her child after leaving the girl in foster care for a period of two years. The most recent hearing in the case resulted in a judgment that will allow the mother to revisit the custody issue.

The child at the center of the case is a little girl with special needs. When her mother encountered financial difficulty, she left the girl at a facility that handles adoptions and also offers short-term foster care. The mother went on to take steps to better her financial situation, intending to return and take her child back home.

In the meantime, the facility set about placing the girl for adoption without the mother's consent. They located a family, encouraged the adoption, and a hearing was set determine whether the mother's parental rights should be terminated. Unable to afford an attorney, the mother chose to represent herself. The end result was the termination of parental rights and the ability of the adoptive family to move forward in the adoption process.

On appeal, the state's higher court ruled that the Constitution protects a parent's right to control the care and custody of their own child, and that a parent who is unable to pay for legal services should not be subject to termination of parental rights based on an inability to fight the case on even ground. The child custody case is significant because it outlines a process under which parents residing in that state have the ability to secure legal counsel in cases where their parental rights are being challenged by a third party. Many Colorado parents feel strongly that similar protections should be available within their own state's court system.

Source: courierpostonline.com, "NJ top court: Birth mom has right to lawyer in custody case", Salvador Rizzo, July 30, 2016

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Brandon Ceglian's practice focus is family law, landlord-tenant law / real estate, civil litigation, criminal / DUI, and collections. View Attorney Profile

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