A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in Minnesota is a court-appointed neutral who is responsible for representing the best interests of the child(ren) in a court matter. Guardian ad Litems are most frequently appointed during family law or juvenile court cases. For example, a Guardian ad Litem may be appointed in a family law case when there is a dispute regarding custody and/or parenting time, issues of neglect, and/or child abuse.
Guardian ad Litem Role
A Guardian ad Litem shouldn’t be confused with a Legal guardian. A Guardian ad Litem doesn’t have any control over the child or his/her property, nor do they live with child. Instead, a Guardian ad Litem is the child’s advocate in court. Guardian ad Litem, legally means – “Guardian of the Lawsuit.”
Guardian ad Litem Responsibilities
Besides maintaining credentials by attending additional training and continued education, a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) has several responsibilities to a case. For example, Guardian ad Litems are responsible for advocating for the child’s best interests, investigating, maintaining confidentiality and making recommendations.
Guardian ad Litem Investigation
In a matter involving contested custody or parenting time, a GAL may conduct an investigation and prepare a report for the parties and the court on the best interests of the children. The Guardian can interview the parents and the child, can observe interactions, and can interview 3rd parties. The Guardian can also review documents, like school records, and mental health reports.
The Guardian may also testify if necessary on his/her recommendations. A Judge will often rely heavily on the report and recommendations of a Guardian as Litem when making a decision involving the child(ren), such as a custody order.As a State of Minnesota employee or a volunteer, Guardians often have a significant workload with stressful cases. As with a Custody Evaluator, it’s best to be open, honest and cooperative with a Guardian ad Litem. Guardians are well trained at detecting dishonesty, and dishonesty can reflect badly on a parent’s credibility.
Guardian ad Litem Costs
In Family Law cases, there is a flat fee of $1,500 for a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). This GAL fee is typically, though not necessarily, split between the parents. In some circumstances, this fee can be reduced or eliminated depending on the financial needs of the parents. However, at the judge’s discretion and based on the parents’ financial circumstances, a Guardian’s fee may be increased, as well.
Minnesota Guardian Ad Litem Program
The Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Board is a great resource to find more information about Minnesota’s Guardian ad Litem program, what qualifies an individual to be appointed as a Guardian ad Litem, what to do if you have a complaint, and more.