Q. Is there a difference between a "guardian" and a "guardian ad litem"?
A. Yes! The "guardian" is the person who by a court order, has been given custody of the child and acts as the parent for the child. They can be a biological parent or a third party (i.e. grandparent). They make the decisions about a child and the child’s needs. The guardian decides where the child lives and how the child is brought up.
The "guardian ad litem" ("ad litem" means "for the lawsuit") is a person the Court asks to work with a child or a person who has a disability that makes it hard for them to understand a case that involves them. In other cases, like in custody cases or neglect or abuse cases, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to investigate and stand for the child’s best interests. Guardians ad litem tell the court what is best custody and parenting time arrangement for the child. They do an independent investigation, by talking to the child, the parents and other care-givers. In the end they provide a report to the court outlining the best interests of the child. Their recommendations are not dispositive; however they do carry great weight.