A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an advocate for a child who is involved in a court proceeding.
When is a GAL appointed?
In South Carolina Family Court, GALs are generally utilized in abuse and neglect cases, private custody actions, and adoptions. There are also situations where a guardian ad litem can help resolve difficulties with visitation or other children's issues.
Will my child go live with the guardian ad litem?
No. A guardian ad litem should not be confused with a legal guardian; he or she does not take over the care of the child.
What does a GAL do?
The GAL communicates with both parents and the children, determines what he or she thinks will serve the children's best interests, and shares that opinion with the Court. The GAL may interview witnesses, review all the pleadings in the case, and may visit each parent's home.
Who can be a GAL?
In some cases, it's required by South Carolina law that a GAL also be a licensed lawyer.
Do I get to choose who the GAL is?
Maybe. In some cases, a judge may appoint a GAL without consulting the parents. It is common, however, for the lawyers representing each parent to agree on who should be appointed as GAL.
What can I get more information?
For more information about the role of the guardian ad litem in South Carolina, I suggest you read the following articles:
Gregory S. Forman, "What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?"
J. Benjamin Stevens & Joanne Hughes Burkett, "Guest Post: What This Guardian ad Litem Wants Parents and Parties to Know"