Guardian ad Litem Services
What is a Guardian ad Litem?
A Guardian ad Litem's job is to represent the best interests of a child. The Guardian ad Litem is appointed by the court and serves the court in a fiduciary capacity. GALs, as they are often called, must have initial training and meet guidelines set forth by the courts they serve. A GAL makes recommendations to the court, but is not a decision maker. The judge makes all decisions concerning the best interests of children.
When is a Guardian ad Litem needed?
The Guardian ad Litem performs an investigation related to the court's purpose. He or she then prepares a report based on review of relevant documents, interviews with the child and interviews and others in the child's life. There are different types of GALs. Some are appointed to determine whether an aging adult is incapacitated; others investigate child abuse, neglect and foster care issues or determine settlement offers in personal injury cases.
What is a Title 26 Guardian ad Litem?
Family Law GALs, also known as Title 26 Guardian ad Litems, investigate child custody disputes and issues concerning children in family law cases. Family Law GALs are often appointed in high conflict cases when the court needs information from a neutral person. Title 26 GALs are also appointed in family law cases that involve mental health issues, domestic violence special needs or substance abuse.
What does a Guardian ad Litem do?
Serving as a Guardian ad Litem requires intimate involvement with a family. The Guardian ad Litem speaks with many people who have a significant impact on a child's life, generally in an informal setting. This may include all parents, relatives who have a close connection with the child, therapists, teachers, friends' parents, clergy, neighbors and others who may have knowledge about the child. The Guardian ad Litem almost always spends time in the child's home or homes, spending time alone with the child.
Because of her experience, Elise has been appointed as Guardian ad Litem in the most challenging of cases. Cases involving parental mental illness, alleged sexual abuse, child neglect, medical and psychological difficulties, domestic violence, high levels of parental conflict, child alienation and other serious family law issues where children are at risk.
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