What is a guardian ad litem? A guardian ad litem (“GAL”) is a responsible caring adult volunteer, appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interest of a child suspected to be a victim of parental abuse, neglect or abandonment.
What does a GAL do? A GAL establishes an ongoing relationship with a child (or group of siblings) and conducts a thorough investigation to determine what recommendations to make on the child's behalf in court. The GAL helps advocate for medical, mental health, educational or economic services needed to bring stability and wholeness to the child’s life, and acts as a monitor to see if court orders are carried out in a timely fashion.
GALs become a thread of continuity in the lives of children faced with a bewildering, impersonal and too often drawn-out judicial process. They provide an important impartial voice to ensure that the child’s best interests are constantly before the court and the agencies entrusted to make decisions about their welfare.
How do I become a GAL in Orange County? Only attorneys are appointed as GALs in Orange County. Call the Volunteer Coordinator at 407-841-8310 ext. 3149. A preference form will be sent to you so that we can obtain all the information needed to add you to our list of volunteers.
What is required of GALs? To accept 2 GAL appointments each year you sign up, to attend all court hearings in your cases unless excused by the judge, to maintain regular and continuing contact with the child according to Standards set by the Legal Aid Society, to file written reports with the court and to advocate for what’s in the child’s best interests.
What resources are available to help attorney GALs? GAL staff attorneys are available to answer questions; assist with developing case strategies; co-counsel cases with significant legal issues and assist with hearing preparation and attendance. Case Coordinators and VACs are available to assist with visitations and resource identification upon request.