Guardian ad Litem
Important Note For Pierce County
Pursuant to the terms of the Court Order, it is anticipated the GAL time should be limited to 15 hours to investigate and prepare a report; this is in essence a “Limited” investigation.
GAL Limited Investigation
The Guardian ad Litem is charged with the responsibility of assessing both parents’ parenting background and capabilities, and recommending a specific plan to the Court for the future care and responsibility for the child(ren). To gather sufficient information, an interview will be conducted with each parent, and phone/interviews with family members and significant parties may also be necessary. Contact may be made with school and day care providers, medical and treatment providers, law enforcement agencies and references. When specified, the parties' home environment may be assessed. Child interviews will be completed and/or parent/child observations. The investigation will identify strengths and concerns regarding the parents' protective capacities, recommendations in terms of custody, visitation with the child(ren) and the need for additional services.
In a typical “limited” GAL investigation, this is how the time is generally used:
1 Hr - GAL Appointment, Intake, Forms & Correspondence
1 Hr - Case & Document Review
2 Hr - Interview Petitioner
2 Hr - Interview Respondent
1 Hr - Interview/Observe Child
1 Hr - Collateral Contacts
2 Hr - Referral/Review of CPS, Medical, Education, Testing
5 Hr - Write GAL Report
An evaluation requires approximately 2 months to complete. Information gathered is used to make a recommendation to the Court about the parents future roles in the care and decision-making for the child(ren). The information is not confidential and is available to attorneys, and to parties if they do not have an attorney. When the Report is complete, copies will be made available to the Court and the attorneys of record or non-represented parties. Upon filing of the Report, the GAL has completed services. Absent a separate agreement for appearance at trial or a hearing, no further work is anticipated for the case. It is important to remember that while the Report includes recommendations, the final decisions will be made by the Court or through a settlement agreement reached by the parties and respective attorneys.
In some cases, the parties may need to return to court for authorization for Additional GAL Time and Fees, if there are circumstances the merit continued work. Without such authorization, the GAL cannot further the investigation. Additionally, please note that this 15 hours, or additional time, is used only for the Investigation and Report, no hearing or trial time is included. Should GAL appearance or testimony be requested, advance Notice (email or phone call)- of at least two weeks- must be given and arrangements made for time and fees. Payment can be made to the Pierce County Clerk or the GAL, but no less than 72 hours in advance. Please note, just because a party lets the GAL know of an upcoming court date, that does not necessarily mean the GAL is available to attend.