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Youth Voice in Court

Engagement of Youth in Court

March 2013, American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law.

The American Bar Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, along with many other national and state child welfare policy and practice organizations have formally adopted resolutions that support young people’s active engagement in permanency planning and other required court hearings in abuse, neglect, and dependency court hearings. More than 25 states have passed legislation or court rules that explicitly give young people the right to attend their permanency hearings.


Summary of Chart From American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, Bar-Youth Empowerment Project.

 

State

Child Considered a Party?

Child Entitled to Notice of Proceedings?

Child Has a Right to be Present During Proceedings?

Alabama

Yes

Yes, age 12 and older

Yes, unless the judge orders otherwise.

Alaska

Yes

Yes

Yes

Arizona

Yes

No  (Notice to the child’s GAL is required.)

No  (Only through the child’s representative.)

Arkansas

Unclear

Yes, age 10 and older

Yes (Required to be present unless excused for good cause.)

California

Yes

Yes, age 10 and older or if older than 8 if the notice is under certain provisions.

Yes

Colorado

No (Only the guardian ad litem.)

Yes

No

Connecticut

Yes

Yes

No (The court may allow the child to present.)

Delaware

No (The GAL is a party but not the child.)

No

No

D.C.

Yes

Yes

No

Florida

Yes

Yes

Yes

Georgia

Yes

Yes, age 14 and older

Unclear (It appears that the child has a right to be present but the court may temporarily exclude him.

Hawaii

Yes

Unclear

Yes

Idaho

No (The GAL is a party but not the child.)

Yes, age 18 and older

Yes, age 18 and older

Illinois

Yes

Yes

Yes

Indiana

Yes

Yes

Unclear

Iowa

Yes

Yes

Yes

Kansas

No

Yes (Serving the guardian ad litem.)

Yes

Kentucky

Yes

Yes

Yes

Louisiana

No

Yes

Yes

Maine

No

Yes (to the guardian ad litem for the child)

Court may interview a child witness in chambers and may admit and consider oral or written statements o out of court statements.

Maryland

Yes

Unknown

Yes

Massachusetts

Yes

Notice only goes to child’s attorney.

Not explicitly.

Michigan

Unknown

Yes, age 11 and older

Not explicitly.

Minnesota

Not a party, but considered a participant.

Yes

Yes

Mississippi

Unclear

Yes

Yes (if child’s counsel consents.)

Missouri

Yes

Yes

Yes

Montana

Yes

Notice is required for foster care reviews.

Yes

Nebraska

Yes

Yes, age 14 and older

Yes, age 14 and older

Nevada

No

No

No

New Hampshire

Yes

Only if the child is going to attend

Yes, at the court’s discretion

New Jersey

Yes

Yes

Yes

New Mexico

Yes

Yes, through the guardian ad litem

Not explicitly, but by implication

New York

Yes

No  (only to the law guardian)

Yes

North Carolina

Yes

Yes, age 12 and older

Unclear for permanency hearings.  Yes, if 12 and older or post termination  of parental rights reviews.

North Dakota

Yes

Yes, age 14 and older

Yes

Ohio

Yes

No  (GAL gets notice)

Yes, but may be excused

Oklahoma

Yes

Yes

Yes

Oregon

Yes

Yes

Yes

Pennsylvania

Yes

Yes, for shelter care

Yes

Rhode Island

Yes, inferred

Yes

Yes

South Carolina

Yes

Yes

No and court can waive at any time

South Dakota

Yes

No, but notice to child’s attorney and GAL

No

Tennessee

Yes

Yes

Yes

Texas

No

No, but provided to GAL

Yes

Utah

Not explicitly

Yes

Yes

Vermont

Yes

Yes

Not explicitly

Virginia

Yes

Yes, age 12 and older

Yes, age 12 and older

Washington

No

Yes, age 12 and older

No, but court can order

West Virginia

Yes

Yes

Yes

Wisconsin

Yes

Yes, age 12 and older

Yes

Wyoming

Yes

Yes, age 14 and older

Yes, court may order otherwise

Total

Child considered a party in 37 states and D.C.

Child given notice in 38 states and D.C.

Child has right to be present at proceedings in 34 states

 
For more information, please contact Nina Williams-Mbengue at 303-856-1559 or Kyle Ramirez-Fry at 303-856-1507.

 

 

 

 

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