A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is appointed by the Court to represent the best interests of the children involved in a family law matter. Generally, GALs are appointed in dependency cases and high conflict custody cases when the Court believes that the child’s needs are not being sufficiently addressed by the parents and their attorneys. Under the direction of the Court, a GAL investigates and reports to the Court regarding her findings and recommendations.
It is important to note that the GAL represents the child’s best interests. Sometimes the child’s desires conflict with what is in his best interests. Often, the child’s best interests conflict with his parent’s desires. A GAL is an officer of the court and must maintain independence to protect the integrity of the process. The specific duties and responsibilities of the GAL vary from case to case and are governed by the Court’s order and any relevant rules or statutes.