Guardian ad Litem (GAL)

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A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an adult who is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child or an incapacitated person involved in a case in Superior Court.  Under the direction of the court, a GAL performs an investigation and prepares a report for the court of the GAL's findings and recommendations. 

To become a GAL, an individual must complete an approved training program, provide background information to the court in which the GAL wishes to serve, and meet all eligibility requirements set by local court rule or policy. 

A GAL is different from a Certified Professional Guardian (CPG).  A CPG is an individual or agency who serves as the legal guardian of at least three indifiduals and provides this service as a profession.  

The Yakima County Superior Court Facilitator maintains GAL registries under Title 26 (representing children in dissolutions, modifications, paternity, relocation and third party custody cases). Title 11 (alleged incapacitated persons), and minor settlements.

For representation of children in the foster care system, please see CASA Program on the Juvenile Court website. 

GALs do not act as lawyers, therapists, or parties in the case, and therefore do not provide legal advice, counseling, or diagnosis. 

 Private Pay Registry

 Under limited circumstances for those parties who qualify, the Court may appoint and pay for the GAL under Titles 26 or 11. For all other cases, parties pay the GAL the rate which the GAL established under the "private pay" registry. (Verify current hourly rates and retainers with individual GALs). 

Resources

Petition for Guardianship & Annual Reports

Effective July 2011, House Bill 1053 has amended RCW 11.88 and 11.92 and will require additional steps to petition for guardianship or to have your annual reports approved.
For Persons Seeking Appointment as Guardians
  • Proof of Completion of Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) online guardian training must be filed with the petition to establish guardianship.  
  • All letters of guardianship issued after July 2011 will have an expiration date.  In Yakima County this will typically be 120 days after the anniversary date of appointment. Annual reports must be submitted within 90 days of the anniversary date of appointment so the report can be approved before letters expire. 
  • The following forms must be completed and filed within 90 days from date of guardian appointment:      
  • Designation Standby Guardian (Form #23 WPF GDN 04.0350)
  • Notice of Right to Request Special Notice (Form #25, WPF GDN 04.0800)
  • A Guardianship Summary information form must be included in any Order Appointing Guardian/Successor Guardian.  If an attorney is representing the petitioner, he/she will prepare this form. 

For Existing Guardians

Here are some helpful steps: 
  • When submitting an annual report (Periodic Personal Care Plan or Guardian's Report and Accounting) a guardian must submit proof of the AOC online training, or submit a Petition and Order waiving training (Form #59A and 59B). (One time only, not required annually).
  • After this year's Order Approving is signed, take it to the Clerk's Office, Room 323 and have new letters of guardianship reissued.
  • A Guardian Summary must be provided in all Orders Approving Report & Accounting and Care Plans.  

Guardianship Cases

It is the intent of the legislature to protect the liberty and autonomy of all people of this state and to enable them to exercise their rights under the law to the maximum extent, consistent with the capacity of each person.  The legislature recognizes that people with incapacities have unique abilities and needs, and that some people with incapacities cannot exercise their rights or provide for their basic needs without the help of a guardian.  However, their liberty and autonomy should be restricted through the guardianship process only to the minimum extent necessary to adequately provide for their own helath or safety, or to adequately manage their financial affairs. 

Guardianship Monitoring Program

Guardianship Monitoring Program Mission Statement, Objectives, Goals and Administration. (PDF).

Yakima County Superior Court appoints guardians for people who lack the capacity to make or communicate decisions because of mental or physical disability.  While the goal of guardianship is to protect, people under guardianship can lose many important rights, including the right to vote, the right to drive, the right to decide where they will live, and the right to decide how their money will be used.  Yakima County's Superior Court Judges are committed to keeping the community's incapacitated people safe from abuse and exploitation. 

The Yakima County Superior Court Guardianship Monitoring Program was implemented to improve the Superior Court's ability to monitor guardians' handling of the ongoing care and financial affairs of the county's incapacitated citizens under court-supervised guardianships.  
RCW 11.130 GAL- Court Visitor Registry Application 7.21.21
  • Please complete the application and provide the necessary documentation.  Once completed, please send to the Court Facilitator.