In a 2014 article in the Maine Law Review, the author reviewed the historical and legal foundations for guardian ad litem (GAL) appointments by judges on behalf of children in Maine. GALs are appointed to provide the court with investigative facts and recommendations concerning the best interest of a child. The implications and frustrations expressed during political and policy discussions reflect a broader national debate deeply rooted in the power of family law courts when child custody or abuse and neglect are alleged. Whether in the form of child protection or child custody litigation, the sheer volume and complexity of modern family systems in the United States, and the frequency of child custody litigation involving younger children, requires family courts to settle or allocate parental rights and responsibilities by entry of a court order when parents cannot agree or place their children at risk. In this article, legislative mandates concerning the qualifications, ethical and legal duties and responsibilities, training, and regulation, and complaint process are explained. In addition, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court adopted rules consistent with this legislation effective September 1, 2015, and subsequently amended. This article explores those rules in detail, as well as the potential implications and limitations for parents, children, and courts, and GALs.
Dana E. Prescott,
The New Phoenix: Maine's Innovative Standards for Guardians Ad Litem,
Me. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/mlr/vol69/iss1/3