Guardian ad Litem (GAL)
A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an adult who is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of an individual for a specific purpose for a specific period of time. Under the direction of the court, a GAL performs an investigation and prepares a report for the court of the GAL's findings and recommendations. To become a GAL, an individual must complete an approved training program, provide background information to the court(s) in which the GAL wishes to serve, and meet all eligibility requirements set by local court rule or policy.
GALs are often appointed to represent the best interests of minor children in Title 26 Domestic Relations (family law) cases, dependent children in Title 13 dependency actions, or incapacitated persons in Title 11 guardianships. They can be paid for their services, or serve as volunteer GALs. Paid GALs can be employed by a county (perhaps family court services) but more often are individuals who do GAL work as part- or full-time self-employment. Most volunteer GALs serve as court appointed special advocates (CASA) in dependency actions.
Statutes govern appointment of GALs (links to GAL laws are provided above). Each superior court maintains a list, or registry, of individuals who are qualified to serve as GALs. Appointments are made by agreement or by rotation from the GAL registry. The GAL's responsibilities and duties are set forth by statute, court rule, and the order appointing the GAL. Each superior court has a procedure for filing a grievance against a GAL.
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