Guardian ad Litem: an Overview
Source and Uniformity of Law
Generally, guardians ad litem are regulated by state and local laws. Jurisdictions differ not only on when to appoint guardians ad litem, but also on the guardians' minimum qualifications, training, compensation, and duties. Due to difference in local rules and funding availability, the quality and effectiveness of guardians ad litem can vary greatly not only between different states, but also between different areas within the same state.
Guardians ad Litem in Domestic Disputes
Courts frequently appoint guardians ad litem to represent childrens' interests in cases involving Adoption, Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce, empancipation, and visitation rights. In these cases, the guardians ad litem usually act as factfinders for the court, not as advocates for the children. Accordingly, they should base their recommendations on what would actually be best for the children, not on what the children prefer. Usually, parents must split any costs associated with hiring a guardian ad litem.
Guardians ad Litem in Incapacity Cases
In many jurisdictions, courts also appoint guardians ad litem in cases involving an allegedly incapacitated person. For example, if children sue, asking the court to to declare their parent incapacitated and appoint a guardian or conservator, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to advocate the parent's best interests.