Working to transform the child welfare system.

SB 5823: Relating to guardians ad litem

SB 5823 changes the language to require courts that appoint guardian ad litem, be from the guardian ad litem or court appointed special advocate programs. Recommendations from the guardian ad litem must be substantiated through accurate factual information and may only be made according to the guardian ad litem’s training and licensing, not based on mental or physical health, or other special circumstances without the aid of a licensed professional from that field of study. The court will strike all nonprofessional recommendations.

In addition, the bill allows all parties to have at least 30 days to respond to the guardian ad litem report before the court adopts or acts on recommendations, and prohibits the court from awarding fees for services rendered without the guardian ad litem first submitting an itemized accounting of his or her time and billing.

Guardians ad litem must report any conflict of interest prior to accepting an appointment. Failure to do so results in immediate dismissal of the guardian ad litem and all reports from the case. A party withholding conflict of interest information is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Committee amendment:   As amended, the bill states that Guardians ad litem must notify each party and court of any conflicts of interest prior to accepting appointment.