The Second Judicial Circuit Juvenile Division, in support of it’s continuing efforts to exceed state standards in the quality of care for our children and families in need have established on going legal services for all children, and indigent custodial parents who come within the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court. The Second Circuit at no expense to families has a full time dedicated Guardian Ad Litem who’s only job is to represent children in abuse and neglect cases and to zealously insure that the best interest of the child is protected in all court proceedings. Pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rules for Juvenile Courts, Rule 116.01 indigent parents who desire counsel and can not afford counsel are provided competent independent contract counsel at no expense to the family in all abuse and neglect cases, to insure that the custodial parent is allowed a full and fair hearing in all such cases. In addition to these legal services the Second Judicial Circuit Juvenile Division has a General Counsel on staff to represent the Juvenile Office in all court proceedings and to provide legal counsel to the Court Services Administrator, Juvenile Officers and Juvenile Services Support Staff and to assist with ongoing in service training programs concerning changing legal issues to insure the best continuing care and legal service for our staff, children and families in need. All the legal services offered by the Second Judicial Circuit demonstrate the continuing commitment to the principals of professionalism in all aspects of legal services concerning our children and families in need and meet or exceed best practices for the care and legal services for children and families in need, in every area offered by any other Circuit in Missouri.


Missouri Supreme Juvenile Court Rule 116.01 requires that when a petition is filed in the Juvenile Court and the juvenile’s custodian appears before the Court without counsel, the Court shall appoint counsel if it finds:

  1.  That the custodian is indigent; and
  2.  That the custodian desires the appointment of counsel; and
  3.  That a full and fair hearing requires appointment of counsel for the custodian.

In the Second Circuit the Juvenile Court has adopted an income scale to determine if a custodian is indigent. This scale has been adapted from the scale developed by the Missouri Public Defender system to determine the indigent status for criminal defendants in the adult criminal systems, and has been approved as a constitutionally accepted method to make this determination.

A custodian is indigent, depending upon the number of dependents in the home including parents and if the maximum allowable monthly income is as follows:

Number of Dependents in the home (Including Parents)

Monthly Gross Income


In the Second Circuit, the Court has, as a matter of best practice, determined that a full and fair hearing can not be held without counsel being appointed for a custodian that is indigent who has requested Court appointed counsel when the child has been or may be removed from the custody of the custodian. The non-custodial indigent parent may be granted Court appointed Counsel, on a case by case basis as may be determined by the Juvenile Court Judge, if justice so requires.

In the Second Circuit all Deputy Juvenile Officers are required to provide Notice of the right to Court appointed Counsel to the custodian, either in the Order for Protective Custody, if a child has been removed by an Emergency Order or in Juvenile Court Summons in all pending Juvenile Court actions. If the custodian request Court appointed Counsel, the Deputy Juvenile Officer assigned to the case is required to assist the custodian in filling out the application for Court appointed Counsel and if the custodian is indigent the Deputy Juvenile Officer is authorized to approve the request when the application has been completed. If the custodian is indigent and the application for Court appointed Counsel has been approved, the Deputy Juvenile Officer assigned to the case is required to notify the independent contract parent Counsel of the appointment and to supply a copy of the Juvenile Office file to the custodian’s Court appointed Counsel immediately. In most cases, the assignment of Court appointed Counsel and the delivery of the Juvenile Office file are made the same day that application of the Custodial parent is approved. This process is expedited to insure that the indigent custodian has access to Counsel as early on in the process as is practical.

In all cases in which the application for Court appointed Counsel has been denied on the grounds that the custodian is not indigent, or in those cases where the non-custodial parent has requested Court Appointed Counsel, the custodian and non-custodial parent are notified of their right to appeal the decision to not appoint Counsel directly to the Juvenile Court Judge assigned to the case. If a custodial parent, waves their right to Court appointed Counsel, they are further advised that at anytime in the proceedings they may make an application for Court appointed Counsel.