Guardians ad Litem
A Guardian ad litem is a person, who is often, but not always a lawyer, appointed by the court to represent the best interests of one or more children in a court action that may affect them. They are often referred to as “GALs.”
Three statutes authorize the court to appoint a GAL. In divorces or other family law actions brought pursuant to Title 19-A of the Maine Revised Statutes, GALs are appointed pursuant to 19-A MRSA § 1507. Title 19-A GALs can be lawyers, mental health professionals or other persons who specially qualify. The courts have no funds available to pay these GALs, so the parties have to share this cost.
In child protective actions, including actions alleging child abuse or neglect brought pursuant to Title 22 of the Maine Revised Statutes, GALs are appointed pursuant to 22 MRSA § 4005. These GAL’s must be either attorneys or Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASAs. The state absorbs the cost of these GAL’s.
In certain Probate Court proceedings brought under Title 18-A of the Maine Revised Statutes, the court may also appoint a GAL pursuant to 18-A MRSA § 1-403(4). Depending on budget constraints in each county, the Probate Court may or may not be able to absorb the costs of these GAL’s.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has adopted Rules and Standards of Practice for Guardians ad Litem in Title 19-A and Title 22 cases. GALs appointed pursuant to these rules must be listed on a roster of GALs unless the trial court determines there is good cause to make a special appointment.
You may find it helpful to read "Representing the Best Interests of Children in Child Protection Cases - A Basic Handbook for Guardians ad Litem," prepared by the Maine District Court Child Protection Committee.
If you are interested in applying to be listed on the GAL roster, you will need to complete an application (PDF) (requires the free Adobe Reader) and submit it to the Family Division, 171 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0171.
- November 13, 2013: Notice and opportunity for comment on proposed amendments to Maine Rules for Guardians Ad litem. Related documents:
- Final report of the National Center for State Courts, Guardians Ad Litem Appointed to Represent the Best Interest of Children in Maine: Domestic Relations Cases, dated October 2013.
- Letter from Chief Justice Leigh Saufley to Senator Linda Valentino and Representative Charles Priest, dated November 12, 2013.
- July 22, 2013: Family Law Advisory Commission Report to Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Recommendations for Amending the Maine Rules for Guardians ad Litem
- March 6, 2013: Recommendations for Amending the Maine Rules for Guardians Ad Litem Report to the Supreme Judicial Court by the Guardian Ad Litem Stakeholders Group
This report has been received by the Supreme Judicial Court. The Court will next consider the recommendations and determine the next steps.
- Report to The Judiciary Committee on Guardian ad Litem Oversight, October 1, 2012
- July 17, 2012: Open Letter From Chief Justice Regarding GAL Oversight
- Public Comments on Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Oversight .