In sum, a guardian ad litem (GAL for short) is an official who is authorized to conduct an investigation in a guardianship case and report back to the court. North Carolina’s laws provide for appointment of a guardian ad litem in a wide range of guardianship matters, both for minor children and individuals who are alleged to be incompetent. These individuals have special training in the important areas of family law, and are often referred to as the “eyes and ears” of the court.
If a GAL has been appointed in your guardianship case and you want to know more about the relevant legal issues, trust a North Carolina guardianship attorney to explain in detail. Some answers to frequently asked questions may also be informative.
What does the GAL do? This person is essentially an investigator for the court, conducting research and interviews where it’s impractical for a judge to do so. The GAL looks into relevant issues regarding petitions for guardianship and other relevant issues, such as:
- The physical and developmental capabilities of the ward;
- The ward’s current living conditions;
- The suitability of a person seeking to be appointed guardian; and,
- Many others.
Upon completing the investigation, the GAL prepares a report that contains findings and recommendations to assist the court in making key guardianship rulings.
How long does the GAL appointment last? The GAL will only be involved in your case until completion of the investigation into the relevant issue. This official will appear in court for hearings and will participate in any motions that affect his or her role.
Is there a fee for the services of the GAL? There are fees for the GAL’s services, typically an hourly rate plus expenses. Because the GAL is appointed by the court to serve the interests of the ward, the guardianship estate is usually responsible for paying them.
What are recommendations for working with a GAL? First, you should understand that the GAL doesn’t represent you; this person is appointed to make sure the best interests of the ward are being served. Additional tips include:
- The GAL will need access to certain documents and other information regarding the ward, so do your best to assist with the investigation;
- Be cooperative when dealing with the GAL, since you could be working with this person for quite some time; and,
- Retain an attorney upon appointment of a GAL in a guardianship case, so you ensure your own rights and interests are protected.
Talk to a North Carolina Guardianship Lawyer About Working with a GAL
If you have additional questions about the role of a GAL in a North Carolina family law case, please contact Howard, Stallings, From, Atkins, Angell & Davis, P.A. We’re happy to set up an appointment with you at any of our offices in Raleigh, New Bern, or Morehead City, NC. One of our skilled attorneys can provide the answers to seek and explain how the laws apply to your case.