Connecticut Changes Rules for Guardian Ad Litem
On October 1 2014, the state of Connecticut changed some of its rules related to guardian ad litem arrangements in an effort to reduce contentious disputes in family courts.
As part of these changes, the judges and court officials will more closely monitor how these guardians are used to represent children in custody and divorce cases. Previously, in September, the state implemented a sliding-fee scale for guardians at litem, geared toward reducing costs for low- and moderate-income parents.
A guardian at litem is a court-appointed representative of a child in a divorce or parental rights case, responsible largely for examining the family’s situation and making recommendations based on the child’s best interests. He or she may advise on where and with whom the child should live and what types of contact, if any, each parent should be able to have with the child in the future. In most cases, guardians ad litem are social workers, mental health professionals or attorneys.
With the recent changes to Connecticut law, there will be 24 new requirements for guardians at litem, including the delivery of competent representation and treating all parties in a family court proceeding with fairness, respect and good faith. In addition, they must now attend all hearings related to the children they represent and keep detailed records of how much time they spend on cases and the fees they charge.
Advocates pushing for the change in law had also asked for immunity to be removed from guardians ad litem, a measure that would have allowed them to be held liable for damages. This rule change was not enacted.
Although some people believe that the changes will slow down divorce and family law proceedings in Connecticut, they should appreciate the greater degree of transparency and accountability the new requirements will bring about. To learn more about the role and rights of a guardian ad litem, consult a knowledgeable family law attorney.