Guardians & Attorneys Ad Litem: A Legislative Update

In family law cases regarding custody of a minor child—such as divorce—the court is legally required to consider factors that speak to the best interests of the child. Ordinarily, a child’s parents are responsible for representing their interests in legal proceedings. However, when circumstances prevent a child’s parents from doing so, it may be necessary for the court to appoint people who are legally responsible for promoting and protecting the child’s best interests in court. These are known as “guardians ad litem” and “attorneys ad litem.”

Guardians Ad Litem

Guardians ad litem are court-appointed individuals who act as a “friend” to the minor child, conducting an investigation or evaluation into the circumstances affecting the child’s best interests. Guardians ad litem are often tasked with present a recommendation to the Court regarding issues such as child custody arrangements and visitation rights.

Attorneys Ad Litem

Under certain situations, the court can appoint an attorney to act as the legal representative of a child. Attorneys ad litem are charged with protecting the child’s interests throughout legal proceedings as their advocate and representative.

Legislative Amendment to Texas Family Code

The Texas Legislature decided to amend several parts of the Texas Family Code effective September 1, 2019, unless the governor vetoes them. Among the amendments to the Family Code involve changes to §§ 107.002 and 107.003, involving guardians ad litem and attorneys at litem. Introduced to the Texas Legislature as H.B. 3390, the amendments recognize a new duty for guardians and attorneys to try and discover the identities of any adult in the child’s community who could act as a designated caregiver for them.

Both guardians and attorneys ad litem will be required to ascertain the identities of potential caregivers, including relatives of the child, in a developmentally appropriate way. After ascertaining individuals who might qualify as the child’s caregiver, guardians and attorneys ad litem must report those names to the Department of Family Protection Services.

Consult an Experienced Attorney at Kay Polk, Attorney at Law

If you are involved in an intense legal dispute regarding your child’s custody, you should contact an experienced attorney from the office of Kay Polk, Attorney at Law. Since 2000, Attorney Kay Polk has dedicated her practice to protecting and preserving the rights and values of families throughout in Texas during family law proceedings such as child custody.

Consult Kay Polk, Attorney at Law about your case by calling (713) 234-6260 or completing an online request form today.