Guardians ad Litem & Court Visitors
Roles & Services
A court visitor / guardian ad litem (GAL) is an adult who is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of an individual for a specific purpose for a specific period of time. Under the direction of the court, a Court Visitor / GAL performs an investigation and prepares a report for the court of the Court Visitor / GAL's findings and recommendations. The Court Visitor / GAL's responsibilities and duties are set forth by statute, court rule and the order appointing the Court Visitor / GAL.
The Court maintains a registry for Title 11 Court Visitors/GAL for Adult Guardianships, 11.130.195 Court Visitors for Minor Guardianships and 26.09 GAL for parenting plan cases. The registry is the list of individuals who have been approved to be appointed as a Court Visitor or Guardian ad litem. Depending on the type of case, the parties may be required to deposit a retainer with the Clerk's Office before the GAL is appointed or the Court Visitor/GAL may be paid for by the court.
- Court Visitor/GAL- Title 11 Adult Guardianship
- Parenting GAL -26.09
- Court Visitor - 11.130.195 Minor Guardianship
The court maintains a mandatory Title 11 Certified Registry of Court Visitors / guardians ad litem who investigate whether the alleged incapacitated individual is incapacitated and needs a guardianship established. Court Visitors are appointed from the registry by calling the Commissioner Services Department (CSD) who will provide the next name on the list based on whether the appointment is private or county pay. The court must complete and file the Order Appointing Court Visitor (pattern form GDN C 103) and give notice to the appointed Court Visitor by emailing/mailing the order to the appointed Court Visitor.
The court maintains a mandatory Title 26.09 Guardians ad Litem Registry. (RCW 26.09.220) Title 26 guardians ad litem are appointed for parenting plan investigations. The parties must pay the GAL retainer and enter the Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem for a Child, pattern form FL 146.
Court Visitor 11.130. 195 Registry
Pierce County Superior Court maintains a list for Title 11.130.195 Court Visitors. A Court Registry will be created in 2022. Until the registry is created, the Court Visitor list is individuals currently on the 26.09 GAL Registry, who attended the State Training and agreed to serve as a Court visitor. The Court selects the next Court Visitor from the list for insertion into the Order Appointing Court Visitor. A Court Visitor appointed in a Minor Guardianship case submits an invoice to Superior Court Administration for the investigation.
No Court Registry Maintained
Capacity to participate in litigation Title 4 Guardianships are under RCW 4.08.050 (minor) and RCW 4.08.060 (incapacitated person). A minor and an incapacitated person cannot sue or be sued except through a litigation guardian ad litem (LGAL). Parents or relatives of a minor child can act as the LGAL to represent the child in court actions. If the court is of the opinion that the parents or relatives are not suitable, the court shall appoint a guardian to act. Pierce County Superior Court does not maintain a registry for Title 4 guardians.
Settlement of Tort Claims of Minors and Incapacitated Persons (SPR 98.16W) SPR 98.16W and PCLSPR 98.18W require the court to appoint a settlement guardian ad litem (SGAL), who is a licensed attorney, to review the proposed settlement to protect the best interests of minors and incapacitated persons. Pierce County Superior Court does not maintain a registry for Settlement GALs. Experienced tort lawyers are appointed as SGAL.
Title 26.26 Guardians ad Litem for Parentage Establishment/Disestablishment (RCW 26.26.555). Commissioners routinely authorize a Title 26.26 GAL by entering an Order Allowing Appointment of a Paternity GAL for private cases, not State initiated cases. The parties must pay the GAL retainer and enter the Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem for a Minor Party, pattern form FL 147.
The Prosecutor’s office appoints contracted guardians ad litem for state paternity actions. Attorneys listed on the Title 26.09 Registry are appointed as Title 26.26 GALs in private cases.