Guardian Ad Litem (Glossary)

Guardian Ad Litem (GAL): A Guardian Ad Litem is a court appointed volunteer advocate that works for the best interest of the child during all court proceedings. Guardian Ad Litem's generally make recommendations to the court which are in the best interest of the child.

The volunteer Guardian Ad Litem, commonly referred to as a GAL, are people who respects a child's right to grow up in a safe environment which meets that child's individual needs. Through each stage of the process, the GAL should present the facts as they understand them, regarding the best interest of the child.

Typically, GAL's are assigned to most court cases which involve children, such as custody disputes, foster care, visitation agreements and adoption.

It is the Guardian Ad Litem's job to ensure that the best interest of the child is represented when a child can't speak for themselves.

Since minor children cannot make legal decisions for themselves, nor bind themselves legally to any contractual obligations, in any legal proceeding where the legal interests of a child and the legal interests of its parents are considered to be adverse or in conflict with each other, a guardian ad litem will be appointed for the child by the court to provide an independent adult to act on behalf of the child in the legal proceeding, and to make certain that the interests and legal rights of the child are given adequate consideration and are adequately protected in that process. The legal protective status of a guardian ad litem will exist only within the confines of the particular court case in which the appointment was made.