Guardians ad Litem
Welcome to the Guardians ad Litem page. The term "ad litem" is Latin and means "for the purposes of the legal action only." Guardians ad Litem can be appointed in various case types and for various reasons. This page provides information and forms for only two types of Guardians ad Litem: Title 11 Guardians ad Litem and Title 26 Guardians ad Litem. (Please see note below regarding Minor Settlements.)
A Guardian ad Litem is an adult who is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of an individual for a specific purpose and for a specific period of time. Under the direction of the court, a GAL investigates and prepares a report for the court, and provides it with findings and recommendations.
The guardian ad litems' role is to investigate and report factual information regarding issues identified by the court. The guardian ad litem must always act in the best interests of the child or alleged incapacitated person. The recommendations of the guardian ad litem will be considered by the court, and weighed in conjunction with the recommendations of the parties and the evidence in the case.
Title 11 Guardians ad Litem are appointed in probate and guardianship cases to represent the interests of persons who lack capacity to handle their legal affairs, or who are alleged to lack such capacity. Guardians ad litem are generally appointed on a temporary basis to investigate and report to the court. It is important to note that a Guardian is not the same as a Guardian ad Litem. Guardians are appointed by the court to provide long-term supervision of the affairs of persons found to be incapacitated. Further information regarding Guardians and their responsibilities can be found on the Guardianship Monitoring Program (GMP) Information and Forms page.
Title 26 Guardians ad Litem are appointed in Domestic Cases, such as dissolutions under RCW Chapter 26.09, third party custody cases under RCW Chapter 26.10, parentage actions under RCW Chapter 26.26, and adoptions under RCW Chapter 26.33. (Title 26 Guardians ad Litem are also appointed in certain juvenile proceedings under RCW Chapter 13.34, but the reader is directed to the Juvenile Justice page for further information on Guardians ad Litem in juvenile court.)
In domestic cases, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of a minor dependent child when the court believes it is necessary to protect the best interests of the child. Guardians ad litem may be appointed from a court-appointed special advocate program if such a program exists in the judicial district. Benton and Franklin Counties Superior Court does not have such a program. It is performed by the Family Court Investigator (FCI).
To become a GAL, an individual must complete an approved training program, provide satisfactory background information and meet all eligibility requirements set by local rule or policy. Click HERE to download an application.
Settlement GALs are not required to be GALs from our Registry or appointed by Court Administration in a certain rotation. Any attorney with the requisite knowledge and experience can be appointed as a settlement GAL.