Guardian ad LItem

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

When there are issues that are contested such as custody and visitation, a Guardian ad Litem is appointed to help protect the best interest of the child or children.  

A GAL is also necessary for name changes of a minor and adoptions.

A GAL can also be appointed for adults who are unable to make decisions on their own behalf.

What is “GAL”?

GAL is a common acronym for Guardian ad Litem.

Who can be a GAL?

A Guardian ad Litem must meet the qualifications and training required by state law, which includes annual education and certification requirements.

How is the Guardian ad Litem selected?

Selection of a GAL is by the parties, attorneys, and/or Court. Attorneys can request a particular GAL based upon the specific needs of the case.

The Family Court either approves the selection or chooses the person, and then signs an Order of Appointment of Guardian ad Litem.

The court order will outline the GAL requirements and permissions, as well as the rate of pay and initial retainer.

You may be required to sign HIPAA releases or other documents for the GAL to gather information. You will be required to pay the retainer and then make additional payments after the initial retainer is used as outlined by your court order. 

What does a Guardian ad Litem do?

The responsibilities and duties of a GAL include, but are not limited to: (1) representing the best interest of the child and (2) conducting an independent, balanced, and impartial investigation to report the facts relevant to the situation of the child and the family.

The GAL is subject to all the rules of the court and should receive all pleadings, notices, discovery, orders, correspondence relating to the child, and notices of appeal.

Does a Guardian ad Litem decide my case?

No. The Guardian ad Litem does not make any decisions related to your case. The GAL does not make recommendations for custody or visitation. The GAL does not have any input for issues of child support, equitable division, or alimony.

Does a GAL work in other types of cases?

A Guardian ad Litem can also be appointed for vulnerable adults in Family Court and Probate Court. A Guardian ad Litem can also be appointed in civil court to protect individuals known and unknown.

What do I do when the Guardian ad Litem is appointed?

If our firm is appointed as GAL in your case, please contact the office. You need to schedule your appointment, provide your contact information, and make payment arrangements per the Court Order.  

When does the Guardian ad Litem start working?

An Order of Appointment by the Court is necessary for Guardian services.

Please note that our office does not receive the court order and paperwork relating to the appointment immediately after court.  A short period of time may pass prior to the office receiving your information. 

Our work begins when we receive the Order of Appointment from the attorneys and your contact information. Questionnaires and a contact list are emailed or mailed to you. You may email the forms before your scheduled appointment or bring the forms to your initial appointment.  

If you want your paperwork emailed to you, email: [email protected] with a request for the GAL package.  

Who comes to the initial appointment?

Only parties can attend the initial appointment. No other individuals may take part in the initial meeting.

Children cannot attend the initial appointment, even if they are not involved in the case.  

If two or more parties come to the same appointment, the Guardian may only meet with one person at a time.  The initial appointment is scheduled for one hour.  

Please ensure that your paperwork, questionnaires, and contact list are complete.   ​​

How do I pay the fees?

You may pay the initial retainer via the LawPay link or at your initial appointment. 

Accounting statements are sent via email.  Additional payments may also be made via mail, in person, or by clicking the LawPay link.

The LawPay link is located in your emailed bill, on the bottom of this page, and at the bottom of the home page.

Can a Guardian ad Litem mediate your case?

A GAL cannot act as both Guardian and Mediator in the same case. However, a GAL may participate in a mediation or a settlement conference. 

Attendance by the GAL in contested custody and visitation cases can be beneficial.

Have questions or need assistance? Contact us.