(a) In all dependency and termination of parental rights proceedings, the juvenile court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for a child who is a party to the proceedings and whose primary responsibility shall be to protect the best interests of the child.

Terms Used In Alabama Code 12-15-304

  • child: An individual under the age of 18 years, or under 21 years of age and before the juvenile court for a delinquency matter arising before that individual's 18th birthday. See Alabama Code 45-36-248
  • following: means next after. See Alabama Code 30-3D-608
  • Guardian: A person legally empowered and charged with the duty of taking care of and managing the property of another person who because of age, intellect, or health, is incapable of managing his (her) own affairs.
  • GUARDIAN AD LITEM: A licensed attorney appointed by a juvenile court to protect the best interests of an individual without being bound by the expressed wishes of that individual. See Alabama Code 45-36-248
  • JUVENILE COURT: The juvenile or family court division of the circuit or district court having jurisdiction over matters as provided by this chapter. See Alabama Code 45-36-248
  • minor: An individual who is under the age of 19 years and who is not a child within the meaning of this chapter. See Alabama Code 45-36-248
  • parent: The legal mother or the legal father of a child under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court pursuant to this chapter. See Alabama Code 45-36-248
  • Pleadings: Written statements of the parties in a civil case of their positions. In the federal courts, the principal pleadings are the complaint and the answer.

(b) The duties of the guardian ad litem include, but shall not be limited to, the following:

(1) Irrespective of the age of the child, meet with the child prior to juvenile court hearings and when apprised of emergencies or significant events impacting the child. In addition, the guardian ad litem shall explain, in terms understandable to the child, what is expected to happen before, during, and after each juvenile court hearing.

(2) Conduct a thorough and independent investigation.

(3) Advocate for appropriate services for the child and the family.

(4) Attend all juvenile court hearings scheduled by the juvenile court and file all necessary pleadings to facilitate the best interests of the child.

(c) Before being appointed by the juvenile court, every guardian ad litem appointed in juvenile dependency or termination of parental rights cases shall receive training appropriate to their role.

(d) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the juvenile court from appointing trained volunteers in addition to guardians ad litem in promoting the best interests of the child.

(e) A guardian ad litem may be appointed to protect the best interests of more than one child of the same parent. A guardian ad litem also may be appointed to protect the best interests of both a minor (or otherwise incapacitated) parent and the child.

(Acts 1975, No. 1205, p. 2384, §5-138; §12-15-8; amended and renumbered by Act 2008-277, p. 441, §17.)