Section 3 - Guardian Ad Litem Appointments

As amended through October 8, 2020
Section 3 - Guardian Ad Litem Appointments
(a) Consistent with Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-4-132, in a custody proceeding the court may appoint a guardian ad litem when the court finds that the child's best interests are not adequately protected by the parties and that separate representation of the child's best interests is necessary. Such an appointment may be made at any stage of the proceeding.
(b) Courts should not routinely appoint guardians ad litem in custody proceedings. Rather, the court's discretion to appoint guardians ad litem shall be exercised sparingly. In most instances, the child's best interests will be adequately protected by the parties.
(c) In determining whether appointing a guardian ad litem is necessary, the court shall consider:
(1) the fundamental right of parents to the care, custody, and control of their children.
(2) the nature and adequacy of the evidence the parties likely will present;
(3) the court's need for additional information and/or assistance;
(4) the financial burden on the parties of appointing a guardian ad litem and the ability of the parties to pay reasonable fees to the guardian ad litem;
(5) the cost and availability of alternative methods of obtaining the information/evidence necessary to resolve the issues in the proceeding without appointing a guardian ad litem; and
(6) any alledged factors indicating a particularized need for the appointment of a guardian ad litem, including:
(i) the circumstances and needs of the child, including the child's age and developmental level;
(ii) any desire for representation or participation expressed by the child;
(iii) any inappropriate adult influence on or manipulation of the child;
(iv) the likelihood that the child will be called as a witness or be questioned by the court in chambers and the need to minimize harm to the child from the processes of litigation;
(v) any higher than normal level of acrimony indicating the parties' lack of objectivity concerning the needs and best interests of the child;
(vi) any interference, or threatened interference, with custody, access, visitation, or parenting time, including abduction or risk of abduction of the child;
(vii) the likelihood of a geographic relocation of the child that could substantially reduce the child's time with a parent, a sibling, or another individual with whom the child has a close relationship;
(viii) any conduct by a party or an individual with whom a party associates which raises serious concerns for the safety of the child during periods of custody, visitation, or parenting time with that party;
(ix) any special physical, educational, or mental-health needs of the child that require investigation or advocacy;
(x) any dispute as to paternity of the child; and
(xi) any other factors necessary to address the best interests of the child.
(d) If the court concludes that appointing a guardian ad litem is necessary, the court should endeavor to appoint a person with the knowledge, skill, experience, training, education and/or any other qualifications the court finds necessary that enables the guardian ad litem to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation and effectively represent the best interests of the child.