What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

If you’re in the middle of a court case that involves a minor child, it is possible that the Courts appoint or suggest that you hire a Guardian Ad Litem. You may have been appointed a Guardian Ad Litem for your minor child and wonder: What is a Guardian Ad Litem?


Let’s break it down for you with exactly what the Virginia Judicial System says:


Guardian ad litem (GAL) literally means ‘guardian for the suit.’ A guardian ad litem in Virginia is an attorney appointed by a judge to assist the court in determining the circumstances of a matter before the court. It is the fundamental responsibility of the guardian ad litem to provide independent recommendations to the court about the client’s best interests, which can be different from advocating for what the client wants, and to bring balance to the decision-making process. The GAL may conduct interviews and investigations, make reports to the court, and participate in court hearings or mediation sessions.” (Virginia Judicial System)


Who is a Guardian ad litem? There is a process that lawyers must go through to become qualified as a Guardian Ad Litem. This includes shadowing other GALs and regular trainings. You can trust these attorneys are acting in the best interest of their minor client. David W. Steidle and Brittany C. Furr are both Guardians Ad Litem and are ready to help with your case! Contact the Steidle & Gordon Attorneys at Law today to learn more about representation for your minor child!


What do GAL’s do? (Specifically when representing children)

  1. Talk to the child about their case in terms they understand. The GAL wants to get an idea of what the child is going through in regards to their case. As GAL, it is their job to know what position their client wishes to take. Talking to a lawyer can be intimidating. GALs go to great lengths to ensure that the child’s needs are met and they are well represented.
  2. Advise the child so they understand the position they are in. A GAL can offer unbiased advice to their client so that children can make as educated of a decision as possible.
  3. Represent the child in all legal matters including pre-trial, hearings, conferences and negotiations.
  4. Talk with parents about the case. GALs often must research facts about the case because sometimes, their clients don’t know all the facts. This will often include face-to-face interviews with parents, doctors, and counselors, home studies and file review.

Make legal recommendations to the courts based on their findings. The court will use this report to make decisions about the case.