Representation of Children in Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings - North Dakota

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Making The Appointment

Citation: Cent. Code § 50-25.1-08; ND R. Ct. 8.7

The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the child in every case involving an abused or neglected child that results in a judicial proceeding.

In court rules: A GAL must be appointed if the court finds an appointment is necessary to protect the best interests of the child involved. In determining whether to appoint a GAL, the court shall consider, among other factors, whether any of the following apply:

  • There is an allegation of sexual abuse.
  • There is an allegation of domestic violence resulting in serious bodily injury or involving the use of a dangerous weapon.
  • There is an allegation of a pattern of domestic violence occurring within a reasonable time proximate to the proceeding resulting in a reasonable fear for the safety of a party or the minor child.
  • The child has special needs.
  • The child has, at any time, been placed in foster care or in the home of a third party.
  • There is an allegation the child is in an unstable environment.
  • There has been repeated postdecree litigation involving custody or visitation issues.
  • The interests of the child and either or both parents are in substantial conflict.
  • A GAL could provide the court with significant information not otherwise available or likely to be presented by the parents.
  • There are any other areas of special concern that may impact the best interests of the child.

The Use of Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs)

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Qualifications/Training

Citation: ND R. Ct. 8.7(c)

To be eligible for appointment as a GAL, an attorney must have completed 18 hours of GAL-related training. To remain eligible to be appointed as GAL, an individual shall complete an additional 18 hours of GAL-related training every 3 years.

Specific Duties

Citation: ND R. Ct. 8.7(d)

A GAL shall advocate the best interests of the child as to legal custody, physical placement, visitation, and support. A GAL shall function independently, in the same manner as an attorney for a party to the action, and, consistent with the Rules of Professional Conduct, shall consider, but not be bound by, the wishes of the child or others as to the best interests of the child.

After appointment, a GAL shall do the following:

  • Work with a custody investigator, if appointed, to coordinate investigation activities and avoid duplicating services
  • Interview and observe the child to ascertain the facts relevant to custody, the child's wishes, the need for independent evaluation, and the need for and appropriateness of interim judicial relief
  • Advise the child and the child's parents of the role and responsibilities of the GAL
  • Interview potential witnesses, lay and expert, with relevant knowledge of the child or parties
  • Participate in meetings impacting the life of the child, including permanency planning meetings and other activities that may be directed by the court

A GAL may apply for a court order to protect the child, to obtain temporary relief, to determine custody, or to determine visitation. A GAL shall participate whenever any party requests an interim court order that may affect the child. He or she also may request an independent court-ordered evaluation or study, including a custody investigation.

The GAL shall also participate in all pretrial procedures and negotiations and endeavor to resolve the case without the need for a trial. The GAL may not disclose or participate in the disclosure of information to any person who is not a party to the case, except as necessary to perform the GAL duties or as may be specifically provided by law.

How the Representative Is Compensated

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.