In Colorado, a “guardian ad litem” with respect to a child, is appointed by the Court and works as the legal representative of the child in dependency and neglect proceedings. Pursuant to Colorado law, the guardian ad litem (“GAL”) must be an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Colorado, and must always act in the best interests of the child.
Unlike in many other states, a guardian ad litem in Colorado does not have a typical attorney-client relationship with the child, i.e., the guardian ad litem is not necessarily advocating for the child’s wishes, but rather his or her best interests. As such, the GAL must sometimes take actions that directly contradict the child’s wishes or demands. The guardian ad litem’s primary responsibility is to recommend to the Court whatever course of action he or she believes is in the best interest of the child. Colorado GALs for children are regulated and paid through the Colorado Office of the Children of the Child’s Representative..
A GAL representing a child in Colorado is charged with many specific tasks, such as making such further investigations as he/she deems necessary to ascertain the facts of the case, talking with or observing the child involved, examining and cross-examining witnesses, making recommendations to the court concerning the child’s welfare, and appealing matters to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court if necessary. The GAL must also seek to assure that reasonable efforts are being made to prevent unnecessary placement of the child out of the home and to facilitate reunification of the child with the child’s family or, if reunification is not possible, to find another safe and permanent living arrangement for the child. See, C.R.S. section 19-3-203.
A guardian ad litem may also be appointed to represent an elderly or incapacitated adult. In Colorado, the probate court handles the issue of whether a particular adult is deemed incapacitated. These vulnerable clients may require the help of skilled legal representatives to ensure that their interests are protected in court proceedings, and one option to represent their best interests is by Court appointment of a GAL. A judge, family members, the Court, or other knowledgeable professionals may nominate a qualified attorney to act as GAL for a minor or incapacitated adult, although the appointment is always within the Court’s ultimate discretion.
Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel Margulis for all of your family law needs.