Guardian Ad Litem – What are they, and why should I want one in my case?
Published 02/29/16 by Lyndsey Johnston
Guardians Ad Litem, are a common place role in both domestic and juvenile cases in modern day practice. However, many people are not fully aware what a Guardian Ad Litem is, and why they should use one. The word Guardian, is familiar to most people, and we know a guardian as someone who safeguards or protects something or someone. The Latin phrase, Ad Litem, literally translated means, “for the lawsuit.” In this case when we put those two concepts together, we have a good working definition of what a Guardian Ad Litem, is; that is, someone who safeguards someone in the context of a lawsuit or a case.
However, a functional definition of a Guardian Ad Litem, is more specific than what has been listed above. In reality, a Guardian Ad Litem, or GAL, is almost always an attorney, who has been appointed for one purpose only; to advocate for the best interest of a child, or multiple children. The GAL, has no loyalty to the Judge, the public, or any parties’ to the case. The GAL is independent, and because they are independent, their recommendations have great weight with the judge in terms of making decisions. GAL’s have the authority to interview parties,’ subpoena documents, review medical and school records, and if appropriate, make motions to the Court for emergency custody, or any other actions that they feel are in the best interest of the child/children. GAL’s are also given extensive training in dealing with issues related to children and families, and are required to go through vigorous background checks.
In Domestic Court, the fees of the GAL are usually equally apportioned to both parties, however, on occasion a party can ask that one side shoulder the majority of the GAL fees, if there is an economic disparity between the parties,’ or if one side has abused the GAL process, and is unfairly causing the costs of the GAL to be increased. In Franklin County, if a party has requested a GAL, the court will appoint one, even if the other party does not agree. Typically our firm suggests to our client’s, that if the other side has requested a GAL, our time is better served by presenting our side to the GAL, as opposed to trying to stop a process, that will eventually happen.
Ultimately, The GAL is an excellent opportunity to for you to present your case to someone who is only interested in protecting your child. Our office works closely with all of the GAL’S that are appointed to our cases, and we maintain positive relationships with the GAL’S that the court regularly appoints. Further, both of our experienced domestic attorneys have extensive experience as GAL’S in a variety of cases.
If you have any questions how the appointment of A Guardian Ad Litem , might affect your domestic or juvenile case, please feel free to call our office, where one of our experienced attorneys can give you a free phone consultation, to discuss your specific situation.