Who is a “Guardian Ad Litem” and what do they do?

business womanA Guardian Ad Litem is a court appointed attorney.  They are used in many different cases, not just family law cases.  Usually, in family law cases, a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed when there is a dispute in regards to minor children.  The dispute could be visitation related or custody related, or even related to education or medical issues.  The Guardian Ad Litem’s function is to be the Court’s witness.  They report facts to the Court, and that allows the Court to make a knowledge based decision.  The Judge cannot go to the parties’ homes, or the children’s schools, and thus the Guardian Ad Litem reports the facts of the situation to the Judge to assist them in making a decision.

Due to the fact that the Guardian Ad Litem is appointed in regards to the best interests of minor children, many parties mistakenly believe that the Guardian Ad Litem is the attorney that represents the minor children.  While the Guardian Ad Litem is technically a reporter of facts, sometimes the Court will ask a Guardian Ad Litem to give their opinion on a particular issue to assist the Court.  The Guardian Ad Litem does not advocate for what the children want, necessarily.  If the Court asks a Guardian Ad Litem for their opinion, it may be the same as the minor child or children’s, but the Guardian Ad Litem is not an attorney for the children and doesn’t do what the children ask.  A Guardian Ad Litem cannot file a motion.  They are a witness at a hearing and they give a report of the situation. 

A Guardian Ad Litem is a very useful tool for the Court as well as the attorney’s on a case, and often times a Guardian Ad Litem can assist the parties and their attorneys in facilitating a settlement.

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