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What is a guardian ad litem?

According to Chapter 53 Second 5334 of the Pennsylvania Code, a guardian ad litem is someone appointed by the court to represent a child in a child custody or other court action. The guardian ad litem will represent the best interests of the child and is tasked with the following:

-- To meet with the child on a regular basis.

-- To be present for all court proceedings.

-- To review all of the records and reports for the child's medical, psychological and educational care.

-- To make written recommendations to the court about what is needed to ensure the child's safety and needs are met.

-- To explain to the child what is happening in the proceedings, as the child's age will allow.

-- To tell the court what the wishes of the child are.

There may be other requirements of the guardian ad litem, such as if child abuse is alleged. The costs for the services of the guardian ad litem may be ordered to be paid by the parents or the court may pay the costs.

A guardian ad litem is not appointed for every child custody case. The court will determine when such services are needed.

If you are involved in a child custody case that is acrimonious or includes allegations of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect or other serious issues, an experienced attorney can provide advice and guidance on how to proceed. These cases can be very involved and time-consuming; however, when a child is at the center of the proceedings, it's important to always consider the child's best interests.

Source: Pennsylvania Legislature, "Guardian ad litem for child," accessed July 10, 2015

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