18 Oct The Guardian Ad Litem
What is a Guardian Ad Litem?
A GAL, short for Guardian Ad Litem, is an attorney appointed to represent the interests of the child(ren). He or she is a licensed attorney and is appointed directly by the Court. Some Judges may give the parties a choice as to who is appointed, but typically the Judge will control the decision. In order to be appointed, the attorney must have completed special training beyond their law school education.
When are they appointed?
A GAL is appointed when it appears to the Judge that there are abuse or neglect concerning the child(ren), or an extremely contested parenting situation. A GAL is also sometimes required by law, as in the case of a guardianship of a minor.
What do they do?
A GAL represents the child. He or she will make sure the parents’ attorneys are respecting the child(ren)’s role as both a witness and party.
The GAL will investigate the child’s living arrangements and treatment through talking with social workers, teachers, the school principle, counselors, or anyone else in the child(ren)’s life that could help shed light on their situation. Through this investigation, the GAL gives the child(ren) a voice in the Courtroom. Judges typically give a lot of deference to a Guardian Ad Litem’s opinion concerning the welfare of the child(ren).
How much do they cost?
While a GAL is appointed by the Court, he or she is still paid by the parties. The Judge will order specific payment arrangements. Typically, each party is ordered to make a small deposit at the onset of the appointment and then the billable time is calculated from there on out. If the case is heavily contested and goes on for quite some time, there might be a few instances where the Judge requires payment to be made.