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What is a guardian ad litem?

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Quick Answer

A guardian ad litem is a court-appointed representative for people deemed incapable of protecting their legal rights in court, according to The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Guardian ad litems are usually attorneys and often represent infants, minors and people who are mentally incompetent. They are often involved in divorce, child custody and child abuse cases.

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Full Answer

Federal court procedure Rule 17 (c) is designed to protect incompetent people in three ways: it allows guardians ad litem to sue and defend on their behalf, it allows incompetent people to appoint a guardian ad litem for themselves and it allows courts to appoint guardians ad litem to represent incompetent persons, explains The Free Dictionary by Farlex. The term infants is interpreted by the courts to mean unborn children and minors. It is at the court's discretion to appoint a guardian ad litem.

Guardians ad litem are most prevalent in legal proceedings involving children, particularly child custody proceedings, notes The Free Dictionary by Farlex. In these cases, they investigate allegations and the child's living conditions, attend to the child's emotional welfare and protect the child from being scarred by the litigation process. They also make recommendations to the court in matters of child custody and visitation and assist in the enforcement of court orders.

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