Section 8 - Duties/rights of Guardian Ad Litem

As amended through October 8, 2020
Section 8 - Duties/rights of Guardian Ad Litem
(a) The guardian ad litem shall satisfy the duties and responsibilities of the appointment in an unbiased, objective, and fair manner.
(b) A guardian ad litem shall:
(1) conduct an investigation to the extent that the guardian ad litem considers necessary to determine the best interests of the child, which can include, but is not limited to, to ascertaining:
(i) the child's emotional needs, such as nurturance, trust, affection, security, achievement, and encouragement;
(ii) the child's social needs;
(iii) the child's educational needs;
(iv) the child's vulnerability and dependence upon others;
(v) the child's need for stability of placement;
(vi) the child's age and developmental level, including his or her sense of time;
(vii) the general preference of a child to live with known people, to continue normal activities, and to avoid moving;
(viii) the love, affection and emotional ties existing between the child and the parents;
(ix) the importance of continuity in the child's life;
(x) the home, school and community record of the child;
(xi) the willingness and ability of the proposed or potential caretakers to facilitate and encourage close and continuing relationships between the child and other persons in the child's life with whom the child has or desires to have a positive relationship, including siblings; and
(xii) the list of factors set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-1 06.
(2) obtain and review copies of the child's relevant medical, psychological, and school records as provided by Section 7.
(3) within a reasonable time after the appointment, interview:
(i) the child in a developmentally appropriate manner, if the child is four years of age or older;
(ii) each person who has significant knowledge of the child's history and condition, including any foster parent of the child; and
(iii) the parties to the suit;
(4) if the child is twelve (12) years of age or older, seek to elicit in a developmentally appropriate manner the reasonable preference of the child;
(5) consider the child's expressed objectives without being bound by those objectives;
(6) encourage settlement of the issues related to the child and the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution; and
(7) perform any specific task directed by the court.
(c) If the child asks the guardian ad litem to advocate a position that the guardian ad litem believes is not in the child's best interest, the guardian ad litem shall:
(1) fully investigate all of the circumstances relevant to the child's position, identify every reasonable argument that could be made in favor of the child's position, and identify all the factual support for the child's position;
(2) discuss fully with the child and make sure that the child understands the different options or positions that might be available, including the potential benefits of each option or position, the potential risks of each option or position, and the likelihood of prevailing on each option or position.
(3) if, after fully investigating and advising the child, the child continues to urge the guardian ad litem to take a position that the guardian ad litem believes is contrary to the child's best interest, the guardian shall take all reasonable steps to:
(i) subpoena any witnesses and ensure the production of documents and other evidence that might tend to support the child's position; and
(ii) advise the court at the hearing of the wishes of the child and of the witnesses subpoenaed and other evidence available for the court to consider in support of the child's position.