A Child’s Voice: Part I

In a two-part series, we will be discussing what a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is, the importance of a GAL’s role, and the impact a GAL can have on a domestic case.

A GAL is an individual that volunteers to serve abused and/or neglected children by advocating for the best interests of the children in court. GALs are trained, supervised, and supported by programs in all North Carolina counties. Attorneys can be GALs, but anyone can train to become a GAL as a community volunteer. The GAL will be appointed by a district court judge to investigate and determine the needs of abused and/or neglected children petitioned into the court system by the Department of Social Services. The role is mandated by North Carolina General Statute 7B-601.

A GAL volunteer’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Looking for details in the case;
  • Collaborating with other participants in the case;
  • Recommending what is best for the children by writing court reports;
  • Advocating for the children;
  • Regularly monitoring the case;
  • Keeping all information confidential.

These guardians are important because they advocate for children in vulnerable and/or dangerous situations. GALs serve as voices for children that are unable to advocate for themselves. Per the North Carolina Judicial Branch’s website, “the main qualification for becoming a GAL is to have a sincere concern for the well-being of children.” To learn more about how GALs are trained in North Carolina, visit www.volunteerforgal.org.

At Hatcher Law Group, we can help in matters that may call for a GAL, as requesting to appoint a GAL is a strategic decision that should not be taken lightly. Contact one of our experienced family law attorneys today if you or someone you know has questions about GALs.