The Role of Guardian ad Litem in Family Law Cases: Safeguarding Best Interests
In family law cases, when the court deems it necessary to protect the best interests of minors, individuals subject to guardianship, or others requiring protection despite possessing legal capacity, a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) may be appointed. Here is a summary of pertinent information regarding the Guardian ad Litem:
1. Appointment and Limitations on Number:
GALs are typically appointed by the court and are chosen from a list featuring individuals with legal, psychological, or social welfare expertise. Parties involved may also make nominations, with the final decision resting with the court.
– In practice, a single individual usually serves as the GAL, although there is no legal restriction limiting the appointment to just one.
2. Roles and Authorities of the GAL:
The primary objective is to safeguard the best interests of the individual under guardianship, achieved through interviews, observations, and reporting to provide professional insights to the court.
– Explanation of legal proceedings to the person under guardianship to ensure their right to information.
– Meetings with the individual under guardianship and their family to aid in the resolution process.
3. Compensation for the GAL:
GAL compensation is generally considered a part of litigation expenses.
When appointing a GAL, the court may order parties to advance related expenses, with a determination on responsibility and amount made after the conclusion of proceedings.
In cases of financial hardship for the parties, the court may consider partial or full reimbursement from the public treasury.
4. Handling Discrepancies in Opinions between GAL and the Individual:
For individuals with legal capacity, the court may lean towards their perspective, taking into account the professional judgment of the GAL.
– For those lacking legal capacity, the court is inclined to respect the professional judgment of the GAL.
In conclusion, the GAL plays a crucial role in family law cases, acting as a professional guardian of best interests. The appointment, responsibilities, and compensation are regulated by the court to ensure fairness and protection of the rights of the parties involved in family law proceedings.