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Arnett & Arnett, PC March 1, 2018

What is a guardian ad litem?

Guardian ad litem is a Latin term meaning “guardian at law.” A guardian ad litem is a person appointed by the court to speak on behalf of a child and to protect the rights of the child during court proceedings. In some states, a guardian ad litem has to be a licensed attorney. In other states, a guardian ad litem does not have to be an attorney but must have special training and/or certification to be eligible to perform the functions of a guardian ad litem.

Under what circumstances is a guardian ad litem appointed?

Guardians at litem are typically appointed to advocate for children in juvenile dependency proceedings (cases involving the alleged abuse or neglect of a child). Guardians ad litem can also be appointed to represent children in legal custody proceedings.

What is the best interest of the child?

In deciding cases involving juvenile dependency or legal custody, the courts use the “best interests of the child” standard. This standard reflects the safety, growth, and well being of the child.

What is the guardian ad litem’s role in juvenile dependency proceedings?

A guardian ad litem investigates the child’s background and environment. The guardian ad litem also locates community services and resources that are available to meet the child’s needs. The guardian ad litem makes recommendations to the court about child placement, visitation, and appropriate services.

What is the guardian ad litem’s role in legal custody proceedings?

When parents cannot agree on custody, the court is required to appoint a guardian ad litem to look out for the child’s welfare. The guardian ad litem in a custody case conducts investigations, meets with parents, and interviews witnesses. The guardian ad litem can meet with social workers, psychologists, and other experts to develop recommendations that would serve the best interests of the child.