When lawsuits involve children it is no surprise that the lawsuit can become difficult and contentious. Child custody cases can be some of the more difficult family law cases. When child custody cases become difficult, California courts can allow the presiding judge to implement a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is appointed to provide an independent person to protect the child's interest.
Although California courts can appoint a guardian ad litem, the service is not free. When a child custody lawsuit has a situation that requires a guardian ad litem, the judge can impose a guardian ad litem and the charges are billed to the litigants. The implementation of a guardian ad litem can be appointed in varying degrees. A guardian ad litem can be appointed on a part-time, interim or as needed basis.
In an attempt to provide stability in a county guardian ad litem program, a judge established a system that provided for a full-time guardian ad litem. The system automatically appointed the guardian ad litem, instead of an appointment that was based on a request from a litigant. The system provided the guardian ad litem a salary and allowed the guardian ad litem to bill the litigants for the services. If the litigant was not able to pay the additional billing, the county would cover the guardian ad litem's cost.
The yearly cost of the county's guardian ad litem program has created controversy by litigants and related proponents. The appointment of a guardian ad litem can be beneficial and an experienced attorney can ensure that all necessary actions are taken to ensure full protection of a child during a custody case.
Source: The Times-Tribune.com, "Set standards, resolve issues on guardians," July 22, 2012