Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) Title 26
Family Law Guardian Ad Litem Registry
Click here to see the list of all Guardian ad Litem's approved to be appointed by the Court.
Court Administration maintains the Thurston County Registry.
Before the Order Appointing GAL is signed by a judicial officer, the availability of the GAL to serve on the particular case should be confirmed by the parties.
If you need to have a GAL appointed in a family law case follow these procedures for best result:
- File your motion, declaration with any supporting documents, and financial declaration with the clerk of the court, provide copies of all documents to the other party.
- File a Notice of Hearing and provide notice to all parties involved.
- Motions for these matters are heard at Family & Juvenile Court on the following calendars:
- Family Law (with attorneys):
- Family Law (self-represented)
Click here for the calendar schedule and session availability.
When a GAL is ordered to be appointed and if the parties do not agree on who should be appointed, Court Administration will provide the parties the name of the next 3 GALs on the rotation list.
Please call (360) 709-3295 for the next 3 names on the list.
About Guardian Ad Litems
The Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem (GAL) outlines the duties of the GAL.
As the parent/guardian, you have the following rights:
- To have the best interests of your child(ren) represented
- To provide the GAL information about your case
- To be treated with respect
- To not submit to any tests, assessments, evaluations, treatment or education unless ordered by the Court order following notice and opportunity to be heard
- To have your privacy maintained (except as necessary in reports to the Court and/or as provided by rule)
- To have an investigation completed timely
- To be provided monthly records of the GAL’s time and expenses
- To receive a copy of all reports filed by the GAL
- To obtain copies of the GAL’s file (costs may be imposed for such requests)
A GAL is a person appointed by the Court to investigate and report factual information to the Court regarding parenting arrangements and what is in the best interests of children. Appointments are made from the Court’s GAL Registry on a rotational basis.
A GAL reviews the Court file, meets with each parent, contacts others who have information related to the parents or children, and may meet with the children. In some cases a GAL will want to make a home visit.
Fees are charged for work done by GALs. Each GAL’s rates are posted on the GAL Registry. Some public funds are available to pay for a GAL if the parents are unable to pay.
Thurston County Family Law GALs must have a Bachelor’s Degree and experience working with children and families.
Additionally, the State of Washington requires that all GALs be trained on a curriculum developed by Washington’s Administrative Office of the Courts.
These guidelines address the GAL services necessary for children in Title 26 proceedings.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall represent the interest of the persons for whom he or she is appointed within the standard applied.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall conduct the investigation pursuant to the terms set forth in the Order Appointing the Guardian ad Litem to the case.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall make a reasonable inquiry as to the facts and issues in dispute and shall decline the appointment if the Guardian ad Litem is not qualified, competent, or able to complete the matter in a timely manner. The Guardian ad Litem shall disclose all known relationships with any of the persons involved with the case prior to accepting an appointment.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall remain qualified for the registry to which the Guardian ad Litem is appointed and shall promptly advise the court of any grounds for disqualification or unavailability to serve.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall maintain independence and objectivity in the Guardian ad Litem investigation. The Guardian ad Litem shall avoid any actual or apparent conflict of interest or impropriety in the conduct of the Guardian ad Litem’s duties. The Guardian ad Litem should avoid self-dealing or association from which the Guardian ad Litem might directly or indirectly benefit, other than for compensation as the Guardian ad Litem. The Guardian ad Litem shall take action immediately to resolve any potential conflict or impropriety. The Guardian ad Litem shall advise the court and the parties of action taken, or resign from the matter, as may be necessary to resolve the conflict or impropriety.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall treat the parties with respect, courtesy, fairness and good faith regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, cultural heritage, gender, age, education, economic status, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability. The Guardian ad Litem shall conduct him or herself in a professional manner at all times.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall make reasonable efforts to become informed about the facts of the case, and shall identify professional resources when necessary to assist the Guardian ad Litem’s evaluation and recommendation.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall inform the court concerning all information upon which the recommendation is based.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall not guarantee or create the impression that any portion of the investigation will remain confidential.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall maintain the privacy of the parties and shall make no disclosures about the case or investigation except in reports to the court or as necessary to perform the duties of the Guardian ad Litem. This provision shall not be construed to prevent a Guardian ad Litem from reporting child abuse or adult abuse.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall perform his or her duties in a prompt and timely manner.
- The Guardian Ad Litem shall maintain adequate documentation to substantiate recommendations and conclusions. The Guardian ad Litem shall keep complete and contemporaneous records of actions taken and the time and expense incurred.
- The Guardian ad Litem shall disclose his or her fee structure to the private parties responsible for paying the fees at the beginning of the investigation, and will communicate to the parties during the investigation in writing the monthly bill for services.
In an ongoing effort to monitor the work performance by our court appointed Guardians Ad Litem (GAL), we are requesting that all attorneys, parties and judicial officers involved in this case complete both sides of this questionnaire. The evaluations should be turned into Court Administration, right outside the office there is a box to drop these into. Please note, this does not start a grievance process.
Procedures for filing a GAL grievance/complaint may be found in Thurston County Local Guardian ad Litem Rules, LGALR 7.
Information for Guardian Ad Litems
- If at any time your information changes, please contact the GAL Registry Coordinator so they can update your information.
- The Court’s policy requires each GAL on our list to accept one case for payment at public expense each year. The Court pays $50 per hour with a limit of 10 hours without prior approval of the Court.
- GALs are expected to be familiar with the Superior Court Rules, with the Local Rules, and with civil procedure. Non-Attorney GALs should be particularly mindful of timeliness and the requirements of the RCWs.
Becoming A Guardian Ad Litem
Social Services/Mental Health:
- A minimum of a BA degree with four years of field experience working with children and families.
- A Masters degree with two years of field experience working with children and families.
- Licensed psychologist or psychiatrist with preference given to those who specialize, or have developed expertise, in working with children and families.
- Members of the Washington State Bar Association with one year experience in the practice of law including family law cases.
Order Appointing GAL FL All Family 146
For when the court orders the GAL be appointed at county expense but is requiring one or both parties to reimburse part of the GAL fee to the county.