A child representative is an attorney for the parties’ child(ren) that advocates what the child representative finds to be in the best interests of the child(ren) after reviewing the facts and circumstances of the case. The child representative is required to meet with the child(ren) and the parties, investigate the facts of the case, and encourage settlement and the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution. Unlike a guardian ad litem, the child representative cannot be called as a witness to testify.
A guardian ad litem (also known as a “GAL”) is an attorney for the parties’ child(ren). The guardian ad litem is required to investigate the facts of the case, interview the child(ren) and the parties, and testify or submit a written report to the court regarding his or her recommendations in accordance with the best interest of the child. Unlike a child representative, the guardian ad litem may be called as a witness for purposes of cross-examination regarding the guardian ad litem’s report or recommendations.
An attorney for the child is an attorney who represents the parties’ child(ren). The attorney for the child provides independent legal counsel for the child(ren) and owes the same duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation as are due an adult client. In any proceeding involving the allocation of parental responsibilities, parentage, support, relocation, property interest, abuse, or general welfare of a minor or dependent child, the court may appoint an attorney to represent the parties’ child(ren). The court may do so on its own motion or by motion of a party.
Tania K. Harvey of Ward Family Law, LLC is active on the Domestic Relations child representative/guardian ad litem roster and can be assigned to a case.