A guardian ad litem acts on behalf of a child or a disabled adult during a lawsuit or court case. A guardian ad litem is charged with telling a judge what he or she believes is in the best interest of a child and act as a liaison between the parents, the child and other people who take care of the child, like teachers, other family members and family friends. The guardian ad litem can also speak to child protection services.
The guardian ad litem writes a report telling the judge what he or she thinks should happen with respect to the child. The report isn’t binding on the judge, but the judge must take the report into account.
Though many guardian ad litem are lawyers, they don’t have to be. The guardian ad litem can work with a lawyer in regards to the case.
In Arizona family court, the judge is compelled to name a guardian ad litem for a child if he or she believes the child is threatened in some way. In cases where the child isn’t under threat, it’s up to the judge whether he or she names a guardian ad litem or not. There must also be a guardian ad litem appointed for a child in juvenile court, a child in foster care, a child who’s neglected or is in need of protective services.
The guardian ad litem is not the same as the child’s guardian, who is basically the child’s parent. The guardian ad litem doesn’t have custody of the child but helps the judge to determine what’s in the child’s best interests. The guardian ad litem learns about the environment in which the child lives, his or her background and his or her family life in order to make a recommendation to the judge.
A parent who wants a guardian ad litem for his or her child needs to speak to his or her attorney. The attorney can then fill out the forms needed to request a guardian ad litem. Or, the parent can file a motion at a courthouse requesting a guardian ad litem. The parent then pays a fee and makes copies for his or herself and other interested parties. The motion for a guardian ad litem is then given to a clerk of the court. The clerk will let the parent know how the papers are to be served to the other parties.
The date for a hearing is then set up. On this date, the judge either approves or denies the motion for a guardian ad litem. The parent needs to explain why he or she wants a guardian ad litem appointed. If the motion is approved, the parent can then chose a guardian ad litem.
If you have questions about guardian ad litem and would like a free consultation with an attorney, you can reach our offices 24 hours a day at (602) 254-8880. You can also send us a confidential email as well.
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