What is a Guardian ad Litem?

A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is a person that gets appointed by the court to make a recommendation as to the child’s best interest.  In some counties in Ohio, only attorneys act as GALs.  In other counties in Ohio, people volunteer to act as GALs through the CASA (court-appointed special advocate) program.  Either parent can request a GAL, or the court can appoint a GAL on the court’s own motion.

Once the GAL is appointed, they will contact both parents to set up a home visit and begin their investigation.  The GAL will speak to each parent, the child, any siblings, the child’s teacher, and the school administration.  The GAL reviews records, speaks with other family members, watches the child’s interaction with both parents, and provides the court with a written report that provides detailed information about their investigation.  The GAL report will also make a recommendation regarding what is in the child’s best interest.

The GAL will testify in court regarding their report, and the court will consider the GAL’s recommendation when issuing the final order.