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(A) When Appointed
(1) A guardian ad litem is a person appointed to assist the court in its determination of the best interest of a child.
(2) The court in its discretion may appoint a guardian ad litem in cases involving an allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, parenting time or in any case in which the court needs to determine the best interest of a child.
(3) The court will appoint a guardian ad litem when a mandatory appointment is required by rule or statute.
(B) Eligibility to Serve
(1) The court maintains a public list of persons qualified and approved to serve as a guardian ad litem. The court may also appoint a licensed attorney on the approved list as an attorney for the child.
(2) To qualify to serve, guardians ad litem must:
(a) Possess a law degree or graduate degree in psychology or social work;
(b) Be licensed, in good standing, by the appropriate board or other licensing body;
(c) Complete twelve hours of pre-service education that complies with Sup. R. 48.05;
(d) Complete six hours of continuing education annually that complies with Sup. R. 48.05;
(e) Maintain appropriate malpractice insurance.
(a) Persons seeking to be placed on the Court’s approved list must submit an application on a court-approved form, with required supporting documents, to the director of the guardian ad litem program that states the applicant’s training, experience, and expertise demonstrating the applicant’s ability to successfully perform the responsibilities of a guardian ad litem.
(b) Applicants will be subject to a criminal and civil background check conducted by the court.
(c) Proof of compliance with pre-service training must include the date, location, and sponsor of the training.
(4) Requirements to Remain on Approved List
(a) Guardians ad litem shall certify annually, in writing to the guardian ad litem program director, that they are unaware of any circumstances that would disqualify them from serving.
(b) Guardians as litem shall report annually, in writing to the guardian ad litem program director, the continuing education training completed pursuant to Sup. R. 48.05 detailing the date, location, content, sponsor, and credit hours received for the education.
(c) Guardians ad litem shall immediately notify the guard ad litem program director, in writing, of any arrest, indictment, or conviction, including pleas of guilty, for any criminal offense involving any action that resulted in a child being abused or neglect, or of a violation of O.R.C. 2919.25 or any sexually oriented offense involving a child; all civil cases in which the guardian ad litem is a named party including civil protection order cases; any pending professional disciplinary actions; and any issues effecting the ability to serve.
(5) Comments, Complaints and Removal
(a) Comments and complaints regarding a guardian ad litem shall be submitted to the director of the guardian ad litem program. The director of the guardian ad litem program will do all of the following:
(i) Provide a copy of the comment or complaint to the guardian ad litem;
(ii) Forward the comment or complaint to the administrative judge;
(iii) Issue a timely disposition of the comment or complaint;
(iv) Notify the person making the comment or complaint and the guardian ad litem of the disposition;
(v) Maintain a written record in the file of the guardian ad litem regarding the nature and disposition of the comment or complaint.
(b) Removal from the approved list. A guardian ad litem may be removed from the approved list of guardians ad litem maintained by the court for the following reasons:
(i) Refusal of three cases in any twelve-month period.
(ii) Failure to meet the qualifications and responsibilities as set forth in this rule and Sup. R. 48-48.06.
(iii) In the interest of justice and for good cause shown.
(1) Equitable Distribution
(a) The court will make appointments so as to ensure an equitable distribution of workload among the guardians ad litem on the approved list. Equitable distribution means a system through which appointments are made in an objectively rational, fair, neutral, and non-discriminatory manner and are widely distributed among substantially all individuals from the approved list maintained by the court. The court may consider the complexity of the issues, parties, counsel, and the children involved, as well as the experience, expertise, and demeanor of the available guardians ad litem. The court shall appoint the next qualified individual from the approved list unless circumstance justify otherwise.
(d) The court will consider reappointment of the same guardian ad litem for a specific child in any subsequent case determining the best interest of the child.
(2) Appointments may be limited in scope to address a specific issue or issues.
(3) Order of Appointment
(a) The appointment is solely as guardian ad litem.
(b) The appointment will remain in effect until a final entry is filed in the case which shall constitute discharge of the guardian ad litem.
(c) The guardian ad litem will be given notice of all hearings and proceedings and be provided, by the parties or their legal counsel, a copy of all pleadings, motions, notices, and other documents filed in the case.
(d) The Order of Appointment will:
(i) state the rate of compensation;
(ii) provide the term and amount of any installment payments and deposits;
(iii) grant the guardian ad litem the right to access information as authorized by the appointment;
(iv) require the parties to cooperate with the guardian ad litem and provide information when required to do so.
(D) Guardian ad Litem Duties and Responsibilities
(1) A guardian ad litem may be relieved of some the duties set forth in this rule as the result of a limited scope appointment or order of the court relieving the guardian of a specific duty.
The guardian ad litem shall:
(a) Become informed about the facts of the case and contact all relevant persons;
(b) Observe the child with each parent, guardian, or physical custodian;
(c) Interview the child, if age and developmentally appropriate, where no parent, guardian, or physical custodian is present;
(d) Visit the child at the residence or proposed residence of the child;
(e) Ascertain the wishes and concerns of the child;
(f) Interview the parties and other significant individuals who may have relevant knowledge regarding the issues to the case. The guardian ad litem may require each individual to be interviewed without the presence of others. Upon request of the individual, the attorney for the individual may be present;
(g) Interview relevant school personnel, medical and mental health providers, child protection services workers, and court personnel; and obtain copies of relevant records;
(h) Review pleadings and other relevant court documents in the case;
(i) Obtain and review relevant criminal, civil, educational, mental health, medical and administrative records pertaining to the child and, if appropriate, the family of the child or other parties in the case;
(j) Request that the court order psychological evaluations, mental health or substance abuse assessments, or other evaluations or tests of the parties as the guardian ad litem deems necessary or helpful to the court;
(k) Review any necessary information and interview other persons as necessary to make an informed recommendation regarding the best interest of the child.
(a) The guardian ad litem shall do all of the following:
(i) Provide the court recommendations of the best interest of the child. The recommendations may be inconsistent with the wishes of the child or other parties;
(ii) Prepare a written and final report that complies with the requirements of Sup. R. 48.08(A) and provide it to the court, unrepresented parties, and legal counsel seven days before the final hearing date. A notice shall be filed setting forth that the report has been sent to all parties and counsel seven days in advance of trial.
(iii) Maintain independence, objectivity, and fairness, as well as the appearance of fairness, in dealings with the parties and professionals, both in and out of the courtroom, and have no ex parte communications with the court regarding the merits of the case;
(iv) Act with respect and courtesy in the performance of their responsibilities as the guardian ad litem;
(v) Immediately identify as the guardian ad litem when contacting individuals and inform them about the role of the guardian ad litem, the scope of the appointment and that documents and information obtained by the guardian ad litem may become part of a court proceeding;
(vi) Attend any hearing relevant to the responsibilities of the guardian ad litem;
(vii) Be available to testify at any relevant hearing;
(viii) Make no disclosures about a case or investigation, except to the parties and their legal counsel, in reports to the court, or as necessary to perform the duties of a guardian ad litem, including as a mandated reporter.
(ix) Maintain the confidential nature of personal identifiers, and addresses where there ae allegations of domestic violence or risk to the safety of a party or child;
(x) If necessary, request timely court reviews and judicial intervention in writing with notice to the parties;
(xi) If the guardian ad litem is an attorney, file pleadings, motions, and other documents as appropriate and call, examine, and cross-examine witnesses pursuant to the applicable rules of procedure.
(b) Notification Requirement
(i) A guardian ad litem shall notify the court, in writing with notice to the parties, upon becoming aware that the recommendations of the guardian ad litem differ from the wishes of the child. The court shall take action as it deems necessary.
(ii) A guardian ad litem shall Immediately notify the court upon becoming aware of an actual or apparent conflict of interest. The court shall take action it deems necessary.
(c) A non-attorney guardian ad litem may request that the court appoint an attorney for the guardian ad litem to file pleadings, motions, and other documents as appropriate and call, examine, and cross-examine witnesses pursuant to the applicable rules of procedure. The court shall take action as it deems necessary.
(1) Approved Fee Rate
Guardians ad litem shall be paid at the rate of $150.00 per hour for all reasonable and necessary time expended and expenses incurred, unless otherwise agreed upon, in writing, by all parties counsel and the guardian ad litem, and approved by order of court.
(a) When making the appointment, the court will order a $1,500.00 or greater deposit toward the guardian ad litem’s fees and expenses, to be paid by one or both of the parties.After considering the parties’ ability to pay, the court may issue an order waiving or modifying this requirement if the parties are unable to pay a deposit.
(b) The deposit shall be paid to the guardian ad litem who shall hold it as security for partial payment of the guardian ad litem fees and expenses.
(c) The guardian ad litem shall file a notice with the court that states when and from whom the payment was received.
(a) The guardian ad litem shall submit a motion for payment at the conclusion of the case. The motion must itemize the duties performed, time expended, and expenses incurred. The court will issue an order on the motion for payment that allocates payment to one or more of the parties, unless a hearing on the motion is requested within 14 days.
(b) In determining the allocation of guardian ad litem fees, the court will consider any relevant factor, including:
(i) The rate or amount of compensation of the guardian ad litem;
(ii) The sources of compensations of the guardian ad litem, including the parties or pro bono contribution of services by the guardian ad litem;
(iii) The income, assets, liabilities, and financial circumstances of the parties, as demonstrated using an affidavit, testimony to the court, or evidence of qualification for any means-tested public assistance;
(iv) The conduct of any party resulting in the increase of the guardian ad litem fees and expenses without just cause;
(v) The terms and amount of any installment payments.
(c) The court may approve or deny any portion of the requested fees.
(d) Approved fees and expenses payable to a guardian ad litem shall be deemed to be in the nature of support and within the exceptions to discharge in bankruptcy under 11 U.S.C. 523.
The guardian ad litem must do both of the following:
(a) Keep accurate records of the time spent, services rendered, and expenses incurred while performing the responsibilities of a guardian ad litem;
(b) Provide a monthly itemized statement of fees and expenses to all parties.
(a) The court may enforce payment of guardian ad litem fees and expenses as follows:
(i) Issue a lump sum judgment;
(ii) Conduct contempt of court proceedings;
(iii) Utilize any other manner authorized by law.
(b) The court will not delay or dismiss a proceeding solely because of a party’s failure to pay guardian ad litem fees and expenses. The inability of a party to pay guardian ad litem fees and expenses ordered by the court will not delay any final entry.
(F) Annual Review
The director of the guardian ad litem program shall annually review the court’s compliance with Sup. R. 48.07.
(Effective March 1, 1994. Amended effective September 1, 1998; November 20, 2000; January 1, 2003; August 1, 2005; July 1, 2009; December 1, 2015; September 15, 2021)
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