The U.S. legal system protects children, who are assumed to lack mature judgment, When a parent is deemed incapable of representing the child’s interest, the court appoints a “Guardian ad Litem” (GAL), a trained volunteer who advocates for the best interests of an abused or neglected child. “Ad litem,” meaning “for the case,” comes from Latin. “In court, the GAL serves as an important voice for the child,” states the North Carolina court system.
In North Carolina, by statute, the Guardian ad Litem program gets involved only when the NC Department of Social Services files a petition alleging child abuse, neglect, or dependency. According to the NC court system, GAL volunteers come from all different backgrounds. No special education or experience is required, but not all volunteers can be accepted due to the challenges of the program and the sensitive nature of working with children. An adult wishing to volunteer submits and application, and undergoes a criminal background check, followed by a screening interview and, ultimately, training.
Desirable qualities for a North Carolina guardian ad litem include:
- A sincere concern for the wellbeing of children
- A commitment to advocate for a child until a safe and permanent home is established and court involvement is no longer required
- The ability to be objective and non-judgmental
- The ability to interact respectfully with people from diverse economic, educational, and ethnic backgrounds
- Good verbal and written communication skills
The duties of the GAL are spelled out on the website of the NC court system. Some of the responsibilities are: getting to know the child and gathering and assess independent information about the child’s needs; Interviewing parents, caretakers, social workers, teachers and service providers; reading up on the case records; attending court hearings and other meetings; ensuring that the court knows the child’s wishes; staying vigilant by monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis; and keeping all records and information confidential.
Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in litigation and settlements, with a focus on personal injury and workers’ compensation law. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at email@example.com, or by calling (336) 882-2000.