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Indiana Law Journal



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Child Advocacy Clinic at Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington, guardian ad litem, child representation


The Child Advocacy Clinic at Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington ("Indiana Clinic") takes as a premise that, in custody and visitation disputes, children may be best served by lawyers as guardians ad litem, rather than by lawyers qua lawyers, on one hand, or by nonlawyer guardians ad litem, on the other. In contrast, participants in a national conference at Fordham Law School' concluded two years ago that "[a] lawyer appointed or retained to serve a child in a legal proceeding should serve as the child's lawyer." That is, the lawyer should regard the child as a client, not a ward. Implicit in this recommendation was that, if the court appoints a guardian ad litem ("GAL") to serve the child, it should assign a nonlawyer to that role. This disagreement raises intertwined questions about how best to serve children in the context of the existing adversary process for making custody and visitation decisions and the prevailing "best interest" standard by which these decisions are made First, if someone is appointed to represent the child what role should that person play? And, second, to whom should courts assign this role?

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Family Law Commons