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What is a Guardian Ad Litem in Arizona?

David Cantor explains Guardian Ad Litem in Arizona:

 

A guardian ad litem is a person that is appointed to represent the best interests of a child in a court case. A guardian ad litem is usually a lawyer, but does not have to be. The guardian ad litem will work with the attorneys in the case, state agencies, the child’s teachers, and other people who know the child to create a guardian ad litem report for the judge. The guardian ad litem report recommends to the judge what orders or actions the court should take with respect to the child to protect the child’s best interests.

In Arizona, a guardian ad litem is appointed by making a motion in the Juvenile Court to appoint one. Once the motion is written, it must be filed with the court and scheduled to be heard by a judge. The other parties in the case will also have to be notified when the motion will be presented to the court. You need to give the other parties at least ten days prior notice before the motion can be properly before the court.

At the hearing, the party making the motion will have to convince the judge that the child’s best interests will be served by appointing a guardian ad litem to advocate on the child’s behalf. For example, allegations of abuse by one or both parents may be grounds to appoint a guardian ad litem. A child that is disabled or has psychological diagnoses is also a common candidate for a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem can be extremely important in a case where the parents or caretakers of the child have a serious disagreement as to what is best for the child’s future. For example, when there is disagreement over medical care of the child. A guardian ad litem is also appropriate where one or both caretakers are incapable or unable to make decisions regarding the child’s best interests due to substance abuse or psychological impairment.

A guardian ad litem is different from, but similar to, a best-interests attorney or an attorney advisor. A best-interests attorney is appointed by making a motion in the family court—not the juvenile court. An attorney advisor is a lawyer that, after considering the facts of the case and desires of the child, recommends a compromise to the court that would be best for the child’s happiness.

If you would like to speak with someone about establishing Guardian Ad Litem or just finding more out about the process, give our offices a call at (602) 691-6364 to schedule a free consultation. You can also send us an email through our secure form.

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