Representation of Children in Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings - Alabama

Date:

Making The Appointment

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 26-14-11; 12-15-304

In every case involving an abused or neglected child that results in a judicial proceeding, an attorney shall be appointed to represent the child. This attorney will represent the rights, interests, welfare, and well-being of the child and serve as guardian ad litem (GAL) for that child.

In all dependency and termination of parental rights proceedings, the juvenile court shall appoint a GAL for a child. The GAL is a party to the proceedings whose primary responsibility shall be to protect the best interests of the child.

The Use of Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs)

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-15-304

Nothing in this section shall prohibit the juvenile court from appointing trained volunteers in addition to GALs in promoting the best interests of the child.

Qualifications/Training

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-15-304

Before being appointed by the juvenile court, every GAL appointed in juvenile dependency or termination of parental rights cases shall receive training appropriate to their role.

Specific Duties

Citation: Ann. Code § 12-15-304

The duties of the GAL include, but shall not be limited to, the following:

  • Irrespective of the age of the child, to meet with the child prior to juvenile court hearings and when apprised of emergencies or significant events affecting the child
  • To explain, in terms understandable to the child, what is expected to happen before, during, and after each juvenile court hearing
  • To conduct a thorough and independent investigation
  • To advocate for appropriate services for the child and the family
  • To attend all juvenile court hearings scheduled by the juvenile court and file all necessary pleadings to facilitate the best interests of the child

How the Representative Is Compensated

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.