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Guardian Ad Litem
If you have a "custody fight" (battle over physical residence of the child, or parental rights and responsibilities), it is quite likely that a Guardian Ad Litem will be appointed to your case. The role of the Guardian Ad Litem is to do an independent investigation and (if necessary) report to the Court on the best interests of the minor children involved. A Guardian Ad Litem can, potentially, save you legal fees; a lot of evidence can come in through the Guardian Ad Litem which otherwise would require more witnesses. Ideally, the Guardian can help resolve the case before it ever gets to trial-opposing a good Guardian’s report is very difficult, so once the Guardian’s views are known, settlement is often facilitated. Of course, if the Guardian’s recommendation comes out against you, this can be very difficult to overcome. In most cases, Judges give a great deal of weight to the recommendation of the Guardian Ad Litem.
People who serve as Guardians Ad Litem are often attorneys, but they don’t have to be. Many are mental health professionals, social workers, or part-time attorneys, otherwise retired. All Guardians have special training and must fulfill continuing education requirements. There is a roster of people who have completed the training and registered to be Guardians, and there is a separate set of Maine Court Rules for Guardians Ad Litem which govern such things as the criteria for their listing on the roster, and standards of conduct. Guardians Ad Litem are also entitled to "quasi-judicial" immunity from civil liability for actions undertaken pursuant to their appointments.
There are many individuals who act as Guardians Ad Litem in the State of Maine. It should be obvious that the choice of a Guardian for your case can be crucial. Only an experienced family law attorney is going to be able to assist you in choice of a Guardian Ad Litem, and seeing to it that an appropriate person is appointed Guardian in your case. Likewise, an experienced attorney will work with the Guardian to make sure that the client’s case is truly given all the consideration to which it is entitled, and that the best interests of the children are genuinely served.
Maine requires the petitioner to list the grounds for divorce in the divorce petition. Fault grounds include adultery, impotence, extreme cruelty, desertion, drug and alcohol abuse, failure of one spouse to support the other adequately, confinement in a mental institution for at least seven years prior to action, and abuse. Spouses can also file on no-fault grounds based on irreconcilable differences but the court can order counseling if the non-filing spouse argues against this claim.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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