What is a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) and When Must a GAL Be Appointed?
In a court of law, Guardian Ad Litem literally means, “guardian for the suit.” A guardian ad litem in Virginia is an attorney appointed by a judge to assist the Court in determining the circumstances of the matter. The Virginia Code states that “every guardian ad litem shall faithfully represent the estate or other interest of the person under a disability for whom he is appointed, and it shall be the duty of the court to see that the interest of such defendant is so represented and protected.” The attorney who is appointed guardian ad litem provides independent advice to the Court (as compared to the attorneys advocating for one side or the other in the action) to bring balance to the decision-making process. The GAL may conduct interviews and investigations, make reports to the court and participate in court hearings or mediation sessions. The Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia administers, maintains and distributes lists of attorneys who are qualified