What are the rights and responsibilities of a “Guardian ad Litem”?

Role of guardian ad litem

Utah Code § 30-3-11.2. Appointment of counsel for child

“If, in any action before any court of this state involving the custody or support of a child, it shall appear in the best interests of the child to have a separate exposition of the issues and personal representation for the child, the court may appoint counsel to represent the child throughout the action, and the attorney’s fee for such representation may be taxed as a cost of the action.”

Here are a couple of citations to decisions from the Utah Supreme Court that explain the role and power of a guardian ad litem:

Role of a guardian ad litem is to represent the best interests of those not legally competent to represent themselves, primarily children, and guardian ad litem may be appointed in a variety of proceedings where a child’s well-being or legal interests are directly impacted. Role and extent to which a guardian ad litem may participate in legal proceedings is controlled by the statutory guidelines under which the guardian ad litem is appointed. State v. Harrison, 24 P.3d 936 (Utah 2001), 2001 UT 33, rehearing denied.

Mother was not entitled to call guardian ad litem as a witness in proceeding to terminate mother’s parental rights; guardian ad litem, in fulfilling her statutory duty to make recommendations to the court regarding children’s best interests, was not acting as an “expert witness,” and court could not treat guardian ad litem’s recommendations as evidence. State ex rel. A.D., 6 P.3d 1137 (Utah 2000), 2000 UT App 216.

Utah Code § 30-3-10.8. Parenting plan–Filing–Modifications

“(7) If the parents file inconsistent parenting plans, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the child, who may, if necessary, file a separate parenting plan reflecting the best interests of the child.”

Here are some other references that deal with the appointment and roles of guardians ad litem:

Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 17. PARTIES PLAINTIFF AND DEFENDANT

Judicial Administration Rule 4-906. GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM

Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.7. LAWYER AS WITNESS

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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