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Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court
Juvenile Right to be Represented by Lawyer
The right to be represented by a lawyer in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court extends to:
  • Juveniles involved in delinquency cases
  • Juveniles in need of services
  • Juveniles in need of supervision
  • Abused and neglected juveniles
  • Any juvenile who is the subject of a custody, visitation or support controversy
  • Adults before the Court on criminal charges
  • Adults faced with loss of their parental rights
  • All other persons whom the Court feels require a lawyer's services

The Court appoints a guardian ad litem (a lawyer who protects the juvenile's best interests) to represent all juveniles alleged to be abandoned, neglected, abused or dependent, who are the subject of an entrustment agreement (in which the parents give up their parental rights and transfer care and custody of the juvenile to an agency), a Court proceeding to terminate residual parental rights (for all rights and responsibility for the juvenile) or whose parents decide to be relieved of care and custody of the juvenile.
Adults and juveniles who can afford to do so must pay the costs of their own counsel. Those who cannot afford a lawyer must complete a financial statement showing their indigence (lack of money) in order to be appointed a lawyer. An adult appearing in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court is eligible to seek Court appointed counsel only in criminal cases, abuse and neglect cases, and termination of residual parental rights cases. Parents or guardians of juveniles or other adults receiving a Court-appointed lawyer who, upon further investigation, are found able to pay will be charged the costs of the lawyer's services. Use of a lawyer is not required in all cases; the right to a lawyer may be waived by the accused, except when the interests of the accused juvenile and his parents are in conflict. However, all individuals are encouraged to seek counsel in cases pending before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
In all matters not listed above, a party may hire a lawyer at the party's own expense, but is not required to do so. Those who wish to hire their own lawyer, but who do not know a lawyer, may obtain the names and phone numbers of local lawyers from the Virginia State Bar Referral Service by calling: 1-800-552-7977.
Those who want to hire a lawyer and have not had time to do so, should ask for a postponement of the case for the purpose of retaining counsel. When appearing before the Court, this matter should be brought up immediately before the hearing starts.
Court personnel are not lawyers, and are not permitted or allowed to offer legal advice. Legal questions should be addressed to lawyers who are admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


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