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11 July 2011

Guardian Ad Litem

A guardian ad litem is typically a guardian that is appointed for a person for a very specific purpose. In many cases, this type of guardian is appointed with the minor is being sued for some reason, typically because they are an heir to some property that is a part of the lawsuit.

If there's a title dispute to real owned by a deceased person, there may be minor heirs of that person who technically are part of the suit. They may never have had guardians appointed. The judge may appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor to make certain the minor's interests are represented. The guardian's only function usually involves the specific court case and the appointment is usually temporary.


  1. A guardian ad litem can also be appointed to represent a child's best interests in custody disputes between divorcing parents. The guardian ad litem is generally an attorney or very legally-knowledgeable advocate.

  2. Very true. In the past, GALS were usually lawyers and sometimes still are. In more recent, current times, a GAL is appointed in cases of child abuse/neglect as well as divorcing parents. Often, they are volunteers, and the program is sometimes called CASA. I have been one such volunteer for 25 yrs locally and volunteers are always needed. However, historically, Michael's description is correct.

  3. Thanks for the comments.

    The tip was meant to be historical, but as both anons pointed out, guardians ad litem are still used today.

    Genealogists encountering guardians ad litem should not be surprised if they are not relatives or extended family. Courts often would appoint lawyers or others familiar with the law in these cases as these guardians are, in most cases, acting as legal counsel for children who have none.

  4. Interesting tip!