Discretionary appointment of GAL who need not be an attorney

Legislation, Custody Disputes - Children

The court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) for the child in custody matters, but the GAL need not be an attorney.


Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 4, § 1554(1) provides that the court is authorized to appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) for "to provide information to assist the court in determining the best interests of the child... in the determination of parental rights and responsibilities under Title 19-A, section 904 or 1653..." 

Section 904 covers "Orders pending divorce", which include orders relating to parental rights and responsibilities, while Section 1653 governs parental rights and responsibilities outside of the context of divorce.  Section 1555 clarifies that appointment is appropriate in contested cases "when the court has reason for special concern as to the welfare of the child." Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 4, § 1555(1).  A GAL may be appointed upon "the court's own motion, on the motion of one of the parties or upon agreement of the parties." Id. 

However, the section suggests that a GAL need not be an attorney, as it goes on to state, "A court may appoint, without any findings, any person listed on the roster." Id. at (1)(A).  Under Me. R. Guard. Ad Lit. Rule 2, individuals who qualify for placement on the Roster include not only those who are licensed to practice law in the State of Maine, but also Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors, those with CASA Certification, and other licensed professionals.

Because the GAL does not need to be an attorney, we have classified this development as does not affect.