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What is a Guardian ad Litem or GAL?


A Guardian ad Litem is a special court appointed attorney. The phrase Guardian ad Litem literally means guardian at law. A Guardian ad Litem or GAL, is an attorney appointed by the Juvenile Court to advocate for the best interests of a child (or in some instances, an adult) in a juvenile court proceeding. A GAL receives training through the GAL Project, a program of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association. In Cuyahoga County, a GAL is always an attorney who has undergone special training about his/her role with the Court and his/her wards. The GAL is appointed by the court to provide GAL services. In certain instances, a GAL may serve a dual role as GAL and counsel for a ward. Currently, there are approximately 100 qualified GALs to accept general assignments in dependency, neglect, and abuse cases, custody, delinquency and unruly cases. The requirement of the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act if a state is to qualify for certain federal funds: Every child must have a Guardian ad Litem representing them in any abuse or neglect case that results in a judicial proceeding (goes to court).