A guardian ad litem is a lawyer or non-lawyer appointed in court proceedings by the court to represent “the best interests” of the child or children involved in that case.
In the family court, guardians ad litem are appointed for children in contested custody and visitation cases, child name change cases, adoptions, DSS abuse and neglect cases, paternity actions, involuntary commitments, and termination of parental rights cases. In private proceedings involving minor children, either parent can request the use of a guardian ad litem or the court can appoint one on its own motion.
A guardian ad litem conducts an investigation into matters that might not be brought before the court by the attorneys representing the parties. The guardian ad litem is NOT the child's custodial guardian or their attorney. “ad Litem” is Latin for “the suit” or “for the purposes of the legal action only.”
There are private, paid guardians ad litem as well as volunteer, unpaid guardians ad litem. Private, paid guardians ad litem are paid by the parents per a court order. Volunteer, unpaid guardians ad litem volunteer in abuse and neglect cases through either the state Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem program or, in Richland County, through Richland County CASA.
Guardian ad Litem Resources & Links:
South Carolina Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem Program
Richland County, South Carolina CASA
USC Children’s Law Center
Links to SC Statutes referring to guardians ad litem:
SC Statute §15-49-10 (Minor Child’s Name Change)
SC Statute §§44-24-20 - 44-24-30 (Commitment of Children)
SC Statute §§63-3-810 - 63-3-870 (Private Guardians ad Litem)
SC Statute §§63-7-310, 1620, 1700, 1990, 2550-2560, 2580 (Child Protection and Permanency)
SC Statute §§63-11-500 – 63-11-570 (Volunteer Guardians ad Litem)
SC Statute §63-9-720 (Adoption Proceedings)
SC Statute §44-41-32 (Abortion)
SC Statute §63-17-10 (Paternity)
This information was prepared to give you some general information on the law. It is not intended as legal advice about any particular problem. If you have questions about the law you should consult a lawyer. If you do not know a lawyer, you can call the South Carolina Bar Lawyer Referral Service weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The number is 799-7100 in Richland or Lexington Counties, and 1-800-868-2284 from other parts of the state.