(Draft from Joint Task Force)
RULE 8.7 GUARDIAN AD LITEM
A person appointed as a guardian ad litem pursuant to North Dakota Century Code § 14-09-06.4 shall meet or adhere to the following standards:
(a) Minimum Qualification. A guardian ad litem shall be a licensed attorney in the state of North Dakota.
(b) Training Requirements. A guardian ad litem shall complete 18 hours of guardian ad litem training. To remain eligible to be appointed as guardian ad litem, an individual shall complete an additional 18 hours of guardian ad litem-related training every three-year period. All guardian ad litem training shall be approved by the court
(c) Criteria for Appointment. A guardian ad litem shall be appointed when the court finds after a hearing that an appointment is necessary to protect the best interests of the child(ren) involved. In determining whether to appoint a guardian ad litem, the court shall consider, but not be limited to, the following factors:
(1) whether allegations of sexual abuse of a party or other family member have been made;
(2) whether there are allegations of an incident of domestic violence resulting in serious bodily injury or involving the use of a dangerous weapon or there exists a pattern of domestic violence within a reasonable time proximate to the proceeding resulting in a reasonable fear for the safety of a party or the minor child;
(3) whether a minor child involved has special needs or behavioral/emotional needs requiring special protection;
(4) whether the minor child has, at any time, been placed in foster care or in the home of a third party or serious allegations have been made that the child is in an unstable environment;
5. whether there has been repeated post-decree litigation involving custody/visitation issues;
6. whether it is apparent the interests of the child and either or both parents are in substantial conflict;
(7) whether a guardian ad litem could provide the court with significant information not otherwise available or likely to be presented by the parents; or
(8) whether there are any other areas of special concern that may impact on the best interests of the child.
(d) Responsibilities of Guardian ad Litem.
(1) A guardian ad litem shall be an advocate for the best interests of a minor child as to legal custody, physical placement, visitation and support. The guardian ad litem shall function independently, in the same manner as an attorney for a party to the action, and shall consider, but shall not be bound by, the wishes of the minor child or the positions of others as to the best interests of the minor child.
(2) After appointment, a guardian ad litem shall complete the following tasks:
a. work with a custody investigator, if appointed, to coordinate investigation activities so as not to duplicate services;
b. 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 or appropriateness of interim judicial relief;
c. advise the child and the child's parents of the role and responsibilities of the guardian ad litem;
d. interview potential witnesses, lay and expert, with relevant knowledge of the child or parties; and
e. participate in staffings and meetings that impact the life of the child, including, but not limited to, permanency planning meetings and staffings within the educational and mental health settings or such other activities as may be directed by the court.
(3) A guardian ad litem may apply for appropriate court orders to protect the child or obtain temporary relief, to determine custody, or to determine visitation.
(4) A guardian ad litem shall participate whenever any party requests an Interim court order which may affect the child.
(5) A guardian ad litem may, when appropriate, request independent court-ordered evaluations or studies, including custody investigations.
(6) A guardian ad litem shall participate fully in all pretrial procedures and negotiations and endeavor to resolve the case without the need for a trial.
(7) A guardian ad litem shall observe all statutes, rules and regulations concerning confidentiality. A guardian ad litem shall not disclose information or participate in the disclosure of information related to an appointed case to any person who is not a party to the case, except as necessary to perform the guardian ad litem duties or as may be specifically provided by law.
(E) Court Proceedings. A guardian ad litem may present a case, cross-examine witnesses, deliver a summation, prepare memoranda of law regarding issues related to the best interests of the child, file motions, and file or otherwise participate in appeals.
Rule 8.5 was adopted, effective _______________________.
SOURCES: Procedure Committee Minutes of _________________________________.