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Last Modified: December 28, 2022

Guardian ad Litem

Guardian ad litem as use in Utah State Court proceedings, refers to a lawyer appointed by a court to look after the interests of an infant, child or incompetent person during court proceedings.” (Utah Court) Guardian ad litem is defined by Nolo as a person not necessary a lawyer  appointed by court to look after and protect the interest of an orphaned child, a child whose parents are locked in legal battle or a person not mentally capable.

Example Sentence

Mr. Smith became guardian ad litem for an 8 year old child who was being abused in his home, and subsequently ordered a restraining order against the parents.

Case Study

Kentucky Court appointed  the aunt of W. A.,  a minor, as  legal guardian of the child following the imprisonment of both W.A.’s parents for criminal offense. With the decision of the court, the aunt brought the child to Utah but after a while, she contacted the Division of Child and Family Services because she could no longer can take care of the child.  The Division of Child and Family Services filed a petition to make W.A. a dependent child of the state. W.A.’s parents protested this petition in behalf their biological son.  The court appointed guardian filed a motion to terminate the parental rights of the child’s parents citing their criminal records as reason that they are unfit parents.  The court appointed guardian then became guardian ad lib for the child.

Other Important Information

The increase in the number of divorce cases and child abuse cases made the appointment of guardian ad litem necessary. The person or lawyer appointed by the court is responsible in protecting the interest of the child/minor during court proceedings. In order to put the best interest of the child first, the guardian ad litem will conduct investigation, attend to the child’s emotional and legal needs and monitor the child’s family. The Free  Dictionary describes the functions of a guardian ad litem to include compiling relevant facts, interviewing witnesses, giving testimony, and making recommendations to the court on issues of custody and visitation.  These legal guardians ensure that all parties comply with court orders. Guardian ad litems are often volunteers or paid minimal amount. They can be subjected to lawsuit by a parent who is unhappy with the results of a custody battle and blames the guardian ad litem for it.

Photo “Courtroom” copyright by Karen Neoh.