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Five Things to Consider if a Guardian Ad Litem is Appointed to Represent Your Child

In Virginia, a guardian ad litem (“GAL”) is an attorney, appointed by a judge to provide the court information regarding the child and parties and to make a recommendation as to what is in the best interest of the child. Below are things to consider if a guardian ad litem is appointed to represent your child:

Child Advocacy Lawyer

  • Be cooperative and responsive to the GAL’s requests. You need to make yourself available for appointments, arrive on time and answer all of the GAL’s questions. If the GAL does not meet with you because you have failed to contact him or her or missed an appointment, then the court may have to continue the case or make a decision that is not in your favor.

  • If you are represented by an attorney, then the GAL must get your attorney’s permission to speak with you. Your attorney must agree that the GAL can speak to you without your attorney being present.[1] Or, your attorney can decide that the GAL can only speak to you with your attorney being present.

  • If you are represented by an attorney, then your attorney cannot speak with the child without the GAL’s permission.[2] The GAL may decide that the attorney can only speak to the child with the GAL being present.

  • The GAL will want to meet with the child alone or possibly with a counselor present. Do not insist that you be present during the interview. You can explain to the child that he or she is going to meet with a GAL but do not encourage or persuade the child to make false statements about the other party.

  • The GAL will have access to the child’s medical and school records. On the back of the court order appointing the GAL, it says, “[T]he guardian ad litem shall have access to any records relating to the child held by any state or local agency, department, authority or institution and any school, hospital, physician or other health or mental health provider who shall permit the guardian ad litem to inspect and copy such records without the consent of the child or his parents.”[3]

A GAL will recommend what is in the best interest of your child. If you have any questions about the services of a guardian ad litem, contact The Smyers Law Firm.

[1] Virginia Legal Ethics Opinion No. 1870.

[2] Id.

[3] Virginia District Court Form 514.

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