What is a Guardian ad Litem?
A Guardian ad Litem is a professional with specific expertise in the area of child protection and working with children. The Guardian ad Litem is an independent person appointed by the Court for the duration of Court proceedings relating to a child. A Guardian ad Litem is not the same as a legal guardian. The Guardian ad Litem gives the child a voice in the proceedings and advises the court in respect of the child’s best interests by acting as an advocate for a child.
How does a child benefit from having a Guardian ad Litem?
It affords the child with the opportunity to meet with an independent person who will represents their views, wishes and feelings directly to the Judge. The Guardian ad Litem acts as an advocate and mediator on the child’s behalf will adults and professionals involved in the child’s care.
When is a Guardian ad Litem appointed?
A Guardian ad Litem is appointed by a Judge during childcare proceedings, this may be when a child is coming into the care of the State or is subject to a Supervision Order.
Guardians ad Litem may also be appointed to represent the wishes of the child and assist the Court in circumstances where there is ongoing disagreement between parents in respect of custody and access matters.
Any child who is detained under the Mental Health Act may have a Guardian ad Litem appointed to hear their wishes and views and represent these to the Court.
How does a Guardian ad Litem make decisions?
Capel Guardians ad Litem adhere to the guidelines outlined by CAAB (want a link to this). An overview of the assessment process involves first and foremost meeting the child regularly, reviewing all relevant files and reports pertaining to the child, and meeting with all adults and professionals involved in the child’s life. The Guardian ad Litem then makes recommendations and presents them to the Court.
Who will see the Guardian’s report?
The report of the Guardian ad Litem is confidential and remains the property of the court. The report will be shared with parties in the proceedings for the purpose of the Court case.
What will happen if the other parties disagree with the Guardian’s views?
The Guardian ad Litem will always discuss recommendations with the child, parents and the social worker prior to the Court case. Parents will normally have their own legal advice and an opportunity to discuss the Guardian ad Litem’s views and recommendations. The Guardian ad Litem may give evidence in the Court and will be open to cross examination in Court on all recommendations.