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.”
The newly revised Rules for Guardians ad Litem (GALs) were issued by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) earlier this month. The rules will be effective on September 1, 2015. Please take a moment to read them. You can find the rules at:
When the new rules become effective, GAL complaints that allege misconduct or incapacity will be assigned to the Guardian ad Litem Review Board (Review Board), an independent unit within the Board of Overseers of the Bar.
The SJC is currently accepting applications from individuals interested in serving on the Board for either two- or four-year terms, without compensation except for travel and expenses. Eight of the members to the Review Board will be drawn from the current roster of GALs.
If you are interested in serving as a member of the Review Board, you must file a letter of interest with the SJC by August 1, 2015. The letter can be emailed to the SJC at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or mailed to the address below:
Matthew Pollack, Executive Clerk
Maine Supreme Judicial Court
205 Newbury Street Room 139
Portland, Maine 04112-0368
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 M.R.S. § 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 M.R.S. § 4005. GALs must be either attorneys or Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASAs. The state absorbs the cost of GALs.
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 M.R.S. § 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 GALs.
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.
If you are interested in applying to be listed on the GAL roster, you will need to complete an 2015 application (PDF)(requires the free Adobe Reader) and submit it to the Libby McCullum, 171 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0171.
- December 10, 2013: Comments received in response to notice of November 13, 2013. (Redacted to remove some personal information, mostly telephone numbers and email addresses):
- 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