If you are—or expect soon to be—in the midst of a complicated child-related legal dispute, there is a very strong possibility that the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to assist in the case. A guardian ad litem, or GAL, works essentially as an extension of the court in matters relating to allocating parental responsibilities—formerly child custody—adoption, guardianship, parental relocations, and any other proceeding that is expected to impact or protect a child’s best interests. While it may be useful to have a trained, objective attorney helping the court make a decision in your case, you should be aware that the services of a GAL are not usually free, and the court itself will probably not be picking up the tab.
Filing of Fees to the Court
Within 90 days of being appointed, the GAL must present a detailed invoice to the court and both parties for services rendered. These services include the GAL’s assigned duties to investigate the circumstances of the family’s situation, to interview appropriate parties, and to prepare a recommendation. If the GAL has been required to testify in court, he or she may include this time in the invoice as well, along with any other reasonable expenses incurred. Should the GAL’s services be required beyond those contained in the original invoice, he or she must file a new invoice every subsequent 90 days.