What is a Guardian ad litem?
A guardian ad litem, or GAL, is a court appointed advocate that works to make sure that a child's best interest is looked after in a parental rights and responsibilities or grandparent visitation case. According to Maine's Revised Statutes, Title 29-A, section 1507, the court can appoint a guardian ad litem when it has concern for the child's welfare. The GAL will work to determine the best interest of the child and the child's wishes and convey that to the court.
The payment of a Guardian ad litem is the responsibility of the parties, but they will work as an agent for the court. If you are dealing with a parental rights and responsibilities issue in Maine and would like to know more about Guardian ad litems, call a family law attorney right now.
Maine Guardian ad litem Law
Under Maine law, section 1507.1, a guardian ad litem can be appointed at any time when the court has “special concern as to the welfare of a minor child”. The court will consider the following factors when determining whether a GAL is necessary:
A. The wishes of the parties;
B. The age of the child;
C. The nature of the proceeding, including the contentiousness of the hearing;
D. The financial resources of the parties;
E. The extent to which a guardian ad litem may assist in providing information concerning the best interest of the child;
F. Whether the family has experienced a history of domestic abuse;
G. Abuse of the child by one of the parties; and
H. Other factors the court determines relevant
A guardian ad litem can be tasked with many duties. In order to perform these duties, certain information regarding the child may need to be released by the parents and the GAL will need to have access to the child. GAL duties include:
- Mandatory duties such as:
- Interviewing the child one on one or with another individual present
- Issuing a written report of their findings and recommendations to the court and to each party
- Optional duties including:
- Interviewing the child's parents, teachers and other adults in the child's life
- Reviewing the health, medical and school records of the child
- Reviewing the mental health and medical records of the parents
- Commissioning qualified professionals to perform medical and mental evaluations of the child and parents
- Requesting counseling for the child
- Retaining an attorney to represent them in court
- Subpoenaing witnesses and introducing documents in court
- Acting as a liaison between the parents and the child
Find Out More About Maine Guardian ad litems
A guardian ad litem must be qualified to act as such by meeting qualifications established by the Supreme Judicial Court. The court will decide when and who will serve as a GAL as well as what their duties will be.
When facing any type of child visitation or parental rights and responsibilities issue in Maine, a family law attorney from WTB Law can help you.