Many people may have heard of a Guardian Ad Litem, but are not sure exactly what it does. What a GAL does is that it provides information and helps assist the Court in disputes relating to family or probate matters. There are different categories of a GAL; including an Investigator; Evaluator; and a “Next Friend”.
The Court appoints an Investigator to look into the facts relating to a family in a probate dispute. A GAL Evaluator may do psychological or clinical testing; and if the GAL acts as a “Next Friend”, they typically represent the interests of the minor child or an incapacitated person, as they are generally considered not to be able to make legal decisions.
The Courts can either on their own appoint a GAL; or at the request of one of the parties appoint a GAL. At times the state can pay for it. Other times it is a private pay circumstance where one or both of the litigants might have to pay. Generally, the person is an approved GAL and depending on the type, it maybe a lawyer, psychologist, social worker and so forth. They will write a report for the Court, and depending on the Judge, the Judge may allow the attorney’s to have a copy and/or the parties to see the report; but the report generally is somewhat more confidential than other Court paperwork.