Purpose and Role of A Guardian Ad Litem


Attorney, Michel L. Watson, Esq.


A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is appointed by a court to represent the best interests of a child or an incapacitated adult in divorce, paternity, child custody, and timesharing matters. Their role is to gather information and advocate for the individual they are representing. To effectively fulfill their responsibilities, a GAL needs to be well-informed about various aspects of the case. Here’s a list of information that a Guardian ad Litem needs to know:

  1. Personal Information:
    • Full name, age, date of birth, and contact details of the individual they are representing.
    • Address, school, and other relevant personal details.
  2. Family Dynamics:
    • Information about parents, guardians, or other caregivers involved in the individual’s life.
    • Relationship history, custody arrangements, and living situations.
  3. Background and History:
    • Medical history, including physical, mental, and emotional health conditions.
    • Educational background, school performance, and any special needs or accommodations required.
  4. Safety and Well-being:
    • Information regarding the safety of the individual, including any history of abuse or neglect.
    • Current living conditions and the presence of any risks or concerns.
  5. Social Environment:
    • Relationship with siblings, extended family members, friends, and other important individuals.
    • Involvement in extracurricular activities and community engagement.
  6. Legal Proceedings:
    • Details about ongoing legal cases, such as custody disputes, adoption proceedings, or guardianship hearings.
    • Information about court orders, motions, and relevant legal documents.
  7. Wishes and Preferences:
    • The individual’s opinions, wishes, and feelings, especially in cases where they are old enough to express themselves.
    • Any concerns or fears the individual may have about the legal proceedings or their living situation.
  8. Visitation and Contact:
    • Details about visitation schedules and interactions with parents, guardians, or other parties involved.
    • Any restrictions or concerns regarding visitation or contact.
  9. Educational and Medical Needs:
    • Information about the individual’s educational progress, needs, and any challenges they may be facing.
    • Medical and therapeutic needs, including any ongoing treatments, medications, or counseling.
  10. Cultural and Religious Background:
    • Details about the individual’s cultural, religious, or ethnic background and the significance of these factors.
  11. Reports and Assessments:
    • Review of any reports, assessments, or evaluations from professionals involved in the individual’s care (psychologists, social workers, educators, etc.).
  12. Previous Court Involvement:
    • Any previous legal involvement, court decisions, or judgments related to the individual.
  13. Interviews and Observations:
    • Notes from interviews with the individual, family members, caregivers, teachers, and other relevant parties.
    • Observations from interactions with the individual in various settings.
  14. Communication and Updates:
    • Regular updates on the individual’s well-being, changes in circumstances, or any new developments.
  15. Legal and Ethical Standards:
    • Familiarity with the laws, regulations, and ethical guidelines that govern the role of a Guardian ad Litem.
  16. Best Interests Analysis:
    • An ongoing assessment of what is in the best interests of the individual, considering all the information gathered.

It’s important to note that the specific information needed can vary based on the jurisdiction, the nature of the case, and the individual’s age and circumstances. The Guardian ad Litem’s primary responsibility is to advocate for the individual’s well-being and ensure that their best interests are represented in court proceedings. The Guardian ad Litem is not the child’s attorney, but represents the interests of the child.

Contact Michel Watson, Esq. to schedule a consultation to discuss your child’s needs today!