L.B. v. Chief Justice of Probate & Family Court Dep’tAnnotate this Case
At issue in this case was whether a parent whose minor child is the subject of a guardianship petition has a right to counsel when and if the parent petitions to have the guardian removed or to have the terms of the guardianship modified. Plaintiffs, the mothers of minor children for whom guardians were appointed pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 190B, 5-206, commenced this action challenging a written policy of the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court Department concerning the appointment of counsel in cases involving guardianships of minors under chapter 190B. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that by limiting the right to counsel to proceedings for the initial appointment of guardians, the Chief Justice’s policy contravened the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Guardianship of V.V. and violated their due process rights. The Supreme Judicial Court held that an indigent parent who seeks to remove a guardian for a minor child and to regain custody of the child or seeks to modify the terms of a guardianship by substantially changing the terms of visitation with a minor child has a due process right to counsel and to be so informed, provided that the parent presents a meritorious claim for removal or modification.