Literally, Guardian Ad Litem means, Guardian “of the matter”. In Colorado, a Guardian ad Litem (G.A.L.) is an attorney who represents the “best interests” of children and adults in dependency and neglect matters, guardianship, family and adoption proceedings.
In most other areas of the law, an attorney’s work is guided by her client’s directions. But because a G.A.L. often represents a child, or a disabled adult, her client is the child’s or the disabled adult’s “best interest”.
To advocate for someone’s best interest, a G.A.L. does a thorough investigation by:
- talking with the child or adult;
- talking with people that are important in the child or disabled adult’s life;
- reviewing documents of particular events;
- visiting where the adult or child lives or where they might live;
- thinking about and pulling all this information together to present to decision makers.
In Colorado, a child’s G.A.L. is appointed by the Court and holds a contract with the Office of the Child’s Representative.
G.A.L.s for adults are appointed by a judicial officer and are paid by the Colorado Administrative Office of the Courts.