Know the responsibilities of your GAL
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
The following amendments to the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio (Sup.R. 40 through 48.07) were adopted by the Supreme Court of Ohio.
UPDATED JANUARY 1, 2021
November 6, 2017 First publication for public comment
October 7, 2019 Second publication for public comment
August 18, 2020 Final adoption by conference
January 1, 2021 Effective date of amendments
Unless a mandatory appointment is required by rule or statute, a court may make a discretionary appointment of a guardian ad litem in the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, unruly, and delinquency cases. In making a discretionary appointment, a court should consider all of the circumstances of the case, including but not limited to all of the following factors: (1) Allegations of abuse and neglect of the child; (2) Consideration of extraordinary remedies, such as supervised visitation, terminating or suspending parenting time, or awarding custody or visitation to a non-parent; (3) Relocation that could substantially reduce the time of a child with a parent or sibling; (4) The wishes and concerns of the child; (5) Harm to the child from drug or alcohol abuse by the party; (6) Past or present child abduction or risk of future abduction; (7) Past or present family violence; (8) Past or present mental health issues of the child or a party; (9) Special physical, educational, or mental health needs of the child that require investigation or advocacy; (10) A high level of conflict; (11) Inappropriate adult influence or manipulation; (12) Interference with custody or parenting time; (13) A need for more information relevant to the best interests of the child; (14) A need to minimize the harm to the child from family separation or litigation; (15) Any other relevant factor.
The responsibilities of a guardian ad litem shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Provide the court recommendations of the best interest of the child. Recommendations of the best interest of the child may be inconsistent with the wishes of the child or the other parties.
- Maintain independence, objectivity, and fairness, as well as the appearance of fairness, in dealings with parties and professionals, both in and out of the courtroom, and have no ex parte communications with the court regarding the merits of the case.;
-Act with respect and courtesy in the performance of the responsibilities of the guardian ad litem;
-Attend any hearing relevant to the responsibilities of the guardian ad litem;
-Upon becoming aware that the recommendations of the guardian ad litem differ from the wishes of the child, immediately notify the court in writing with notice to the parties or affected agencies. The court shall take action as it deems necessary.
-If necessary, request timely court reviews and judicial intervention in writing with notice to the parties or affected agencies;
-If the guardian ad litem is an attorney, file pleadings, motions, and other documents as appropriate and call, examine, and cross-examine witnesses pursuant to the applicable rules of procedure;
-Be available to testify at any relevant hearing. Attorneys who are to serve as both guardian ad litem and attorney should be aware of in any dual appointments shall comply with Rule 3.7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct
-If the guardian ad litem is not an attorney, avoid engaging in conduct that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law and be vigilant in performing the duties of the guardian ad litem;
-If the guardian ad litem is not an attorney, request the court to appoint an attorney for the guardian ad litem to file pleadings, motions, and other documents as appropriate and call, examine, and cross-examine witnesses pursuant to the applicable rules of procedure. The court shall take action as it deems necessary.
You can find the training requirements, duties and conflicts of interest in the full rules.