On January 20, 2009, the Supreme Court of Ohio adopted new rules concerning the requirements to become a Guardian ad Litem. These rules specify both the duties and obligations of Guardians ad Litem appointed in juvenile and domestic child custody case. Previously, some counties had adopted local rules concerning the duties of a Guardian ad Litem, while others counties did not have a formal rule. In order to create a uniform standard for the performance of an Ohio Guardian ad Litem, the Supreme Court of Ohio has adopted the following rules:
1. Mandatory Court Appointments – Courts are now required to formally enter an Order of Appointment, declaring that the individual shall serve as only a Guardian ad Litem or as Guardian ad Litem and Attorney Advocate for the child in the custody case.
2. Responsibilities – The new rule includes 17 responsibilities for Guardians ad Litem. The rule requires a Guardian to perform all of these responsibilities, unless it is impracticable or inadvisable. Some of the responsibilities include:
- represent the best interest of the child or children
- maintain objectivity and fairness in the proceedings
- act with respect and courtesy
- participate in any and allhearings that involve the child or children
- file pleadings and motions as appropriate
- become informed of the facts involved in the case with reasonable investigation
- interview the child or children
- interview the parents
- visit the child or children at their residence
- and other investigative duties.
3. Training Requirements – Before the new Rule, each county had their own requirements for Guardians ad Litem to complete before they could serve as a Guardian. The new Rule has created a six-hour pre-service training course that must be completed before an individual may serve as a Guardian ad Litem. Currently, acting Guardians ad Litem have until January 20, 2010, to complete the pre-service training course. A three hour continuing education course must be completed each succeeding calendar year.
4. Reports – Guardians ad Litem are now required to file a written, final report at least seven days before the final hearing. The report shall have the Guardian’s investigative findings as well as his or her recommendation to the Court. The deadline for filing may be extended by agreement of the parties or by leave of the Court.
5. Effective Date – The new rule for Guardians ad Litem will be effective on March 1, 2009.
Rule 48 of the Ohio Rules of the Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio can be found by placing your cursor here and either clicking or pressing Ctrl & clicking at the same time.