Representation of Children in Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings - Idaho

Date: June 2021

Making The Appointment

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-1614

In any child protection proceeding for a child under age 12, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) for the child or children and shall appoint counsel to represent the GAL, unless the GAL is already represented by counsel. If a court does not have available to it a GAL program or a sufficient number of GALs, the court shall appoint counsel for the child. In appropriate cases, the court may appoint a GAL for the child and counsel to represent the GAL and may, in addition, appoint counsel to represent the child.

In any child protection proceeding for a child age 12 or older, the court shall appoint counsel to represent the child and may, in addition, appoint a GAL. When appointment of counsel is not practicable or not appropriate, the court may appoint a GAL for the child and shall appoint counsel to represent the GAL, unless the GAL is already represented by counsel.

The Use of Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs)

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.


Citation: Ann. Code § 16-1632

Under rules, policies, and procedures adopted by the Idaho Supreme Court, a judicial district may establish, maintain, and coordinate a districtwide GAL program that will do the following:

  • Furnish administrative and staffing services
  • Act as a coordinator for providing GALs for children needing them
  • Establish a program for attorneys to represent GALs
  • To the extent possible, establish a districtwide program to recruit volunteer GALs sufficient to provide services in each county of the judicial district
  • Develop uniform criteria to screen, select, train, and remove GALs
  • Establish a priority list of the proceedings in which a GAL shall be appointed in districts where there are insufficient numbers of GALs

The coordinators and staff members of any GAL program and any persons volunteering to serve as GALs shall submit to a fingerprint-based criminal history check through any law enforcement office in the State providing such service. The criminal history check shall include a statewide Criminal Identification Bureau check, Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history check, and statewide sex offender registry check. A record of all background checks shall be maintained in the Office of the Supreme Court with a copy going to the applicant.

Specific Duties

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16-1633; 16-1634

The GAL shall advocate for the best interests of the child and shall have the following duties:

  • To conduct an independent investigation of the circumstances of the child
  • To file with the court prior to any hearing a written report of the results of the investigation, the GAL's recommendations, and any other information the court may require
  • To act as an advocate for the child
  • To participate fully in the proceedings
  • To confer with the child, the child's siblings and parents, and any other person having information relevant to the case
  • To monitor the circumstances of a child and to ensure that the terms of the court's orders are fulfilled and remain in the best interests of the child
  • To maintain the confidentiality of all information regarding the case
  • Other duties as ordered by the court

In all postadjudicatory reports, the GAL shall inquire of any child capable of expressing his or her wishes regarding permanency and, when applicable, the transition from foster care to independent living and include the child's express wishes in the report to the court. The GAL's written report shall be delivered to the court, with copies to all parties to the case, at least 5 days before the date of the hearing. The report submitted prior to the adjudicatory hearing shall not be admitted into evidence at the hearing and shall be used by the court only for disposition of the child.

If represented by counsel, the GAL may file pleadings, motions, memoranda, and briefs on behalf of the child and shall have all the rights of a party. All parties to the case shall promptly notify the GAL and the GAL's attorney of all hearings, staffings, investigations, depositions, and significant changes of circumstances of the child.

Except as prohibited by Federal or State law, any person or agency shall permit the GAL to inspect and copy pertinent records relating to the child and parent without consent of the child or parents.

How the Representative Is Compensated

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16-1614; 16-1638

Counsel appointed for the child shall be paid for by the county unless the party for whom counsel is appointed has an independent estate sufficient to pay such costs.

There shall be a GAL account in the agency asset fund in the State Treasury. The account shall consist of the following:

  • Moneys appropriated to the account
  • Donations, gifts, and grants to the account from any source
  • Any other moneys that may hereafter be provided by law

Moneys in the account may be expended for the purposes provided in §§ 16-1632 through 16-1638. Interest earned on the investment of idle money in the GAL account shall be returned to the GAL account.

Disbursements of moneys from the account shall be by appropriation from the legislature to the Supreme Court. The moneys shall be used for the payment of grants to qualified recipients and for expenses incurred for carrying out the provisions of this chapter.