- by Mary Montgomery
How Much Does a Guardian Ad Litem Cost in Georgia?
Child custody matters are some of the most difficult dealt with in the Georgia family court. These cases can get complicated and often involve multiple parties and claims. To ensure the best interests of the child are protected, the court may appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL). This is generally an attorney whose sole task is to represent the child in court matters and to help determine what custody arrangements would best work to ensure the child gets the level of care and support they need.
When Is A Guardian Ad Litem Needed?
The Georgia Office of the Child Advocate advises that, by law, children have the right to be appointed an attorney to represent them in matters in which their rights and interests may be in jeopardy. Guardians are often used in child custody cases, particularly those involving allegations of child abuse and neglect. A GAL generally will investigate the circumstances involved, spending time talking with the child and observing interactions at home, at school, and in social settings, while reviewing medical records, therapists’ reports, and statements from the adults involved in the case. The GAL will attend hearings on the child’s behalf, representing the child in motions and presenting the evidence collected.
In order to be appointed as a GAL in a family court matter, attorneys and, in some cases, non-attorney GAL candidates, are required to undergo specialized training. This includes training on early childhood, child, and adolescent development, along with training in how custody matters are typically handled.
Guardian Ad Litem Fees
So how much does a guardian ad litem cost? That depends on the attorney appointed in the case. Under Section 29-9-15 of the Georgia Code, the law allows a GAL to receive reasonable compensation based on the tasks performed and the requirements of the case. Most attorneys charge hourly rates for their services, so the cost would depend on the complexity of the case, as well as the attorney’s experience in handling these types of matters and the number of years they have served with the Guardian Ad Litem program.
Fees are likely to begin in the vicinity of $300 to $400 per hour, and are generally billed in 10 minute increments, meaning that they are only paid for the actual amount of time spent on the case. GAL fees are generally divided between the adult parties involved by mutual agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached or if one party lacks the financial means to pay, the court may order payments, portioning out amounts that fall within each party’s means.
Our Firm Stands Ready To Help
In child custody cases, there is so much at stake. You want an experienced attorney on your side, to ensure your rights are protected. Contact Stearns, Montgomery & Proctor to find out how we can assist you. Call or contact us online today and request a consultation at one of our four offices, located in Atlanta and the surrounding area.