Guardian ad Litem aka Children's guardian

A Guardian ad Litem, or Children’s guardian, is a person who is appointed by the court to fairly and competently conduct proceedings on behalf of a child. They are appointed for children who are the subject of, and party to, certain types of family proceedings. They must have no interest in the proceedings adverse to that of the child. All steps and decisions the child’s guardian takes in the proceedings, must be taken for the benefit of the child.

There are some cases where the court must appoint a Guardian ad Litem, such as;

  • applications by the local authority for a Care of Supervision Order (including interim orders)
  • applications to discharge Care or Supervision Orders
  • applications in relation to contact or living arrangements for a child who is subject to a Care Order
  • applications for a placement order (adoption)
  • appeals in relation to any of the above

However, the court might also seek to make a child a party to proceedings in dealing with private law disputes between parents as to the arrangements for the child or other issues. These are likely to be difficult cases, such as, an intractable dispute as to residence or contact, where there are complex medical or mental health issues, international complexities or serious allegations of abuse, and the court feels that it would be in the best interests of the child to make them party to the proceedings. In these cases, when a child is made a party to the proceedings, then again the court must appoint a Guardian ad Litem, unless the child is considered to be of sufficient age and understanding to instruct a solicitor directly.