The Role of the Guardian Ad Litem Icustody Litigation
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The Role of the Guardian Ad Litem in Custody Litigation
The topic I chose to write my paper about is the role of the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in custody litigation. There are many flaws and inconsistencies in the adequacy and standards of the Guardian Ad Litem system. In my opinion, the system seems unfair and unjust. As a result, the outcome of this can wreak havoc on ones family, especially the child and deeply affect the rest of their lives. I have witnessed the results of this first hand, because my dear friend is an unfortunate victim of the GAL system, which destroyed her life. Therefore, there needs to be stricter guidelines and policies for GALs to follow when determining all custody dispute cases.
Originally, In the United States, English Common laws main reasons for appointing a GAL in a court proceeding was to represent individuals who were considered incapable of protecting their own interests or to protect the financial interests of children. Traditionally, such individuals were appointed a representative – usually a lawyer – to advocate on their behalf in all judicial proceedings.
On January 13, 1974, Congress passed the Child Abuse and Treatment Act, which required states to appoint a Guardian Ad Litem in all abuse and neglect proceedings in order to receive federal funding and assistance.
Furthermore, because of the Child Abuse and Treatment Act, South Carolina passed the Child Protection Act and the state of Washington started experimenting with the use of volunteers as court appointed Guardian ad litem in order to obtain complete information on the case. This experiment was so successful that the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court judges endorsed it. As a result, other programs were developed across the country that similarly began using volunteers as advocates for children in court.
Clearly, the purpose of assigning GALs has expanded over time. Today the majority of states appoint guardian ad litem solely to protect the safety and welfare of the child.
The legal definition of a Guardian ad Litem is a person who is appointed by the court to represent and protect the best interests of a child during a lawsuit. For example, a Guardian Ad Litem may be appointed to represent the best interest of a child in a divorce case where both parents are battling over the welfare and custody of the child or to protect the child when there is an allegation of child abuse.
Many people wonder why any court would think that the parties (usually parents of the child) would not have the concerns of the child in mind. However, in many cases,