Guardian ad Litem Services
What is a Guardian ad Litem?
A Guardian ad Litem is a professional whose job is to represent the best interests of a child, usually less than 18 years old, for a specific purpose and for a specific amount of time. The Guardian ad Litem is appointed by the court and serves the court in a fiduciary capacity. GALs as they are often called, must have some initial training and meet guidelines set forth by the courts they serve. A GAL makes recommendations to the court, and is not a decision maker. The judge makes all decisions concerning the best interests of children.
When is a Guardian ad Litem needed?
The Guardian ad Litem performs an investigation related to the court’s purpose and prepares a report based on the GAL’s review of relevant documents, interviews with the child and interviews with other people who have information about the child. There are different types of GALs. Some are appointed to determine whether an aging adult is incapacitated; others investigate child abuse, neglect and foster care issues while others determine settlement offers in personal injury cases.
What is a Title 26 Guardian ad Litem?
Family Law GALs, also known as Title 26 Guardian ad Litems, investigate child custody disputes and other issues that concern children in family law cases. Family Law GALs are often appointed in high conflict cases when the court needs information from a neutral person. Title 26 GALs are also appointed in family law cases that involve mental health issues, domestic violence special needs and/or substance abuse.
What does a Guardian ad Litem do?
Serving as a Guardian ad Litem requires intimate involvement with a family. The Guardian ad Litem speaks with every person who has a significant impact on a child’s life, generally in an informal setting. This may include all parents, relatives who have a close connection with the child, therapists, teachers, friends’ parents, clergy, neighbors and others who may have knowledge about the child.
The Guardian ad Litem almost always spends time in the child’s home or homes, sometimes eating meals with the family and spending time alone with the child in his or her homes.
Guardian ad Litems then use this information to write a report for the court.
To learn more about Guardian ad Litems in Washington State, here’s a link to the Washington State Title 26 Family Law Guardian ad Litem Guidebook:
One of the most Senior Title 26 Guardian ad Litems in Washington State
Integrative Family Law’s founder Carol Bailey has been involved as a Guardian ad Litem for more than 100 families. Because of her experience, she has been appointed as Guardian ad Litem in the most challenging of cases, including those involving parental mental illness, alleged sexual abuse, child neglect, childhood medical and psychological difficulties, domestic violence, high levels of parental conflict with alleged parental alienation of a child, and other serious family law issues with children in problematic situations.
Bailey’s work as a Guardian ad Litem helped her see and realize the legal process was the cause of needless destruction of relationships important to the well-being of the parents and the children, and, as a divorce attorney, she knew she could foster a different outcome, one that benefits the parents and the children.
To that end, in her practice as a family law attorney she created and now uses Integrative Family Law to guide clients toward decisions that serve not only their short-term legal interests but also their long-term health and financial well-being. The firm’s attorneys strive to minimize the negative impact the legal process often has on clients and their important relationships. In many cases, this approach also results in reduced legal fees.
Bailey continues to serve as a Guardian ad Litem in a limited number of cases. Learn more about Carol Bailey.