First off, let me explain that guardian ad-Litems advocate for the child in child protection cases.  Most often, the parents in court proceedings have attorney’s as advocates and their children need someone to stick up for them.

There are three very different kinds of guardian ad-Litem; Volunteer, Staff, and Lawyer.

1) Volunteer CASA GALs generally take just a few cases and get to know the families and children in the court proceedings very well.  CASA stands for, Court Appointed Special Advocate.  as a CASA GAL, I had fifty children in my case load over twelve years.  Some of those children stayed with me over the entire twelve years.  I knew them and their families very well.

2) Staff GALs are given case loads similar to case loads that social workers are given.   In my experience, staff GALs have more cases and less time per child/case than volunteers.

3) Attorneys hired as guardian ad-Litems are paid by the County or by the parent depending on the state.  In my experience, attorneys rarely visit the family, and generally meet the child for the first time at court.  Their approach to the proceedings is more likely to be by the the book or statutory than the first two.

Feel free to add clarifications to this posting if I’ve missed something or you disagree with me.