- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey’s top court has ruled that indigent parents being sued by foster families or private adoption agencies must be provided with an attorney.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of a woman who lost parental rights to her special-needs daughter in court after leaving her in foster care in 2012.

The court says that there is no room for error “given the fundamental nature of the right to parent that may be lost forever in a disputed adoption hearing.”

Parents have previously had the legal right to an attorney when the state’s child welfare agency sought to remove them from their care. Tuesday’s decision expands that to foster families or private adoption agencies.

Terminating parental rights is the first requirement in contested adoption proceedings.

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