Understanding the Role of Guardian ad Litem

The Colorado judicial system takes the needs of children very seriously, and when the best interests of a minor need to be represented in a case regarding neglect or dependency issues, the state ensures they have proper representation.

This individual is called the Guardian ad Litem, and holds a great deal of responsibility during the course of a case. Let’s explore how this person is appointed and what exactly they are called to do.

The Basics

The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) must be appointed by the court and can only be filled by an attorney. This person holds a different role than many other child advocates, in that he or she is called to represent the best interests of a child rather than the desires of the child.

The distinction is important, as the GAL’s main duty is to remain unbiased and only strive for what will serve the child best. Because of this requirement, a GAL does not have a typical client/attorney relationship with the child they are representing.

The Duties

Unlike other attorney duties, a Guardian ad Litem is in court solely to represent the best interests of a child in a neglect case. Typically, the appointed GAL has experience in these types of cases and is not required or allowed to litigate for any other person in court.

They are often requested to appear in court or to provide written reports at the judge’s request, and can also bring information to the court that they deem to be valuable. A Guardian ad Litem might also be responsible for meeting with the child outside of the court and documenting their home life or medical information.

Other Aspects To Consider

Although a GAL does get paid for their time, it is usually at a fairly low rate and is almost considered to be like a volunteer position. Depending on the financial situation of the child they are working with, a GAL’s rates might be paid by the individual or by the state.

In certain instances, a GAL can be removed and a request for a new one can be presented, so it’s in the best interest of the Guardian ad Litem to maintain neutral representation and follow all of their requirements appropriately.

How can you obtain a Guardian ad Litem that you can trust? The staff at Hulbert & Associates can act as a GAL in your case to ensure the best interests of your child are met. Call us today to find out how to proceed with utilizing us as your child’s Guardian ad Litem.

Written by Lori Hulbert

Together the attorneys of the firm have nearly 30 years of experience in the fields of estate planning, estate and trust administration, estate and trust litigation, guardianships and conservatorships and civil litigation.