What is a Guardian Ad Litem in CA?
Whether you’re building out your estate plan, going through probate, or dealing with a custody dispute, you may need to take official legal action in court. Not just anyone can pursue legal action at any time, however. The law includes safeguards to prevent people from being taken advantage of when they are cognitively unable to make decisions on their behalf, or when they lack the maturity or legal status to pursue certain legal remedies. In California, there’s a legal tool known as guardian ad litem to assist when a person is unable to adequately protect their interests in a legal action. To learn about guardian ad litem in California, continue reading. For help with a matter involving California family law or estate planning, call a knowledgeable Claremont family lawyer and trusts & estates attorney for assistance.
Defining Guardian Ad Litem
A guardian ad litem is a person appointed by the court to represent the interests of another party in a legal proceeding. Often, cases involving probate, child custody, child abuse, personal injury, or other issues will necessitate the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of a party who lacks the mental or legal capacity to represent themselves.
When is a Guardian Ad Litem Appointed?
A guardian ad litem will be appointed when a party to a legal proceeding lacks the capacity to act in their own interests. Guardians ad litem are often appointed in cases involving children, as minors lack the legal capacity to appear in court on their behalf. Personal injury matters involving injured kids, child custody or child abuse cases in which the child has a vested personal interest, or other family law situations in which a child needs an advocate often involve the appointment of a guardian ad litem.
A guardian ad litem may also be appointed for an adult who lacks capacity. If a person is unable to advocate for themselves in court because of injury, age, or illness (for example, if an injured party is in a coma, or a party has been declared legally insane or mentally incompetent), a guardian can be appointed to represent their interests.
Typically, a guardian appointment is unopposed. However, an adult who allegedly lacks capacity can choose to challenge the appointment and prove their mental capacity to represent their interests.
What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?
A guardian ad litem represents the interests of an incapacitated person in court. They will make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated party and, to the best of their ability, see that the interests of the incapacitated party are pursued and protected. In a personal injury case, for example, the guardian ad litem can approve a settlement on behalf of the minor or incapacitated party, communicate with the party about settlement funds, and see the settlement funds deposited into an account for the party they represent. The appointment lasts only as long as the legal proceeding continues.
Call a seasoned California family law attorney at Blasser Law for assistance with a child custody dispute, divorce, or any other California family law matter. The dedicated and exceptional Claremont divorce legal team at Blasser Law is ready to assist clients with any family law concerns in the San Gabriel Valley or Los Angeles County. Contact our family law office at 877-927-2181.