AMENDMENTS TO THE
SUPERINTENDENCE FOR THE COURTS OF OHIO
to Rule 48 of the Rules of
Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio were adopted by the Court
and become effective March 1, 2009. The
history of these amendments is as follows:
2008 Initial publication for comment
adoption by conference
March 1, 2009 Effective date of proposed
SUPERINTENDENCE FOR THE COURTS OF OHIO
Rule 48. Guardians ad litem
rule shall apply in all domestic relations and juvenile cases in the courts of common
pleas where a court appoints a guardian ad litem to protect and act in the best
interest of a child.
For purposes of this rule:
“Guardian ad litem” means an individual appointed to assist a court in its
determination of a child’s best interest.
A person under
eighteen years of age, or
A person who is older than eighteen years of age who is deemed a child until
the person attains twenty-one years
of age under section 2151.011(B)(5) or section 2152.02(C)
of the Revised Code.
A child under R.C. 3109.04 or a disabled child under R.C.3119.86 who falls
under the jurisdiction of a domestic
relations court or of a juvenile court with a paternity docket.
(C) Appointment of guardian
Each court appointing a guardian ad litem under this rule shall enter an Order
of Appointment which shall include:
A statement regarding whether a person is being appointed as a guardian ad
litem only or as a guardian ad litem and
attorney for the child.
A statement that the appointment shall remain in effect until discharged by
order of the court, by the court
filing a final order in the case or by court rule.
A statement that the guardian ad litem shall be given notice of all hearings
and proceedings and shall be
provided a copy of all pleadings, motions, notices and other documents
filed in the case.
(2) Whenever feasible, the same guardian ad litem
shall be reappointed for a specific child in any subsequent case in any court
relating to the best interest of the child.
The court shall make provisions for fees
and expenses in the Order.
Responsibilities of a guardian ad litem
order to provide the court with relevant information and an informed
recommendation regarding the child’s best interest, a guardian ad litem shall perform,
at a minimum, the responsibilities stated in this division, unless
impracticable or inadvisable to do so.
(1) A guardian ad litem shall represent the best interest
of the child for whom the guardian is appointed. Representation of best interest may be
inconsistent with the wishes of the child whose interest the guardian ad litem
A guardian ad litem shall maintain
independence, objectivity and fairness as well as the appearance of fairness in
dealings with parties and professionals, both in and out of the courtroom and
shall have no ex parte communications with the court regarding the merits of
A guardian ad litem is an officer of the
court and shall act with respect and courtesy to the parties at all times.
(4) A guardian ad litem shall appear and
participate in any hearing for which the duties of a guardian
ad litem or any issues substantially within a guardian ad litem’s duties and
scope of appointment are to be addressed.
(5) A non-attorney guardian
ad litem must avoid engaging in conduct that constitutes the unauthorized
practice of law, be vigilant in performing the guardian ad litem’s duties and
request that the court appoint legal counsel, or otherwise employ the services
of an attorney, to undertake appropriate legal actions on behalf of the
guardian ad litem in the case.
A guardian ad litem who is an attorney may file pleadings, motions and other
documents as appropriate under the applicable rules of procedure.
When a court appoints an attorney to serve as both the guardian ad litem and
attorney for a child, the attorney shall advocate for the child’s best interest
and the child’s wishes in accord with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Attorneys who are to serve as both guardian ad
litem and attorney should be aware of Rule 3.7 of the Rules of Professional
Conduct and act accordingly.
When a guardian ad litem determines that a conflict exists between the
child’s best interest and the child’s wishes, the guardian ad litem shall, at
the earliest practical time, request in writing that the court promptly resolve
the conflict by entering appropriate orders.
A guardian ad litem shall avoid any actual or apparent conflict of
interest arising from any relationship or activity including, but not
limited to, those of employment or business or from professional or personal
contacts with parties or others involved in the case. A guardian ad litem shall avoid self-dealing
or associations from which the guardian ad litem might benefit, directly or
indirectly, except from compensation for services as a guardian ad litem.
Upon becoming aware of any actual or apparent conflict of interest, a guardian
ad litem shall immediately take action to resolve the conflict, shall advise
the court and the parties of the action taken and may resign from the matter
with leave of court, or seek court direction as necessary. Because a conflict of
interest may arise at any time, a guardian ad litem has an ongoing duty to comply
with this division.
Unless excepted by statute, by court rule consistent with this rule, or by
order of court pursuant to this rule, a guardian ad litem shall meet the
qualifications and satisfy all training and continuing education requirements
under this rule and under any local court rules governing guardians ad litem. A
guardian ad litem shall meet the qualifications for guardians ad litem for each
county where the guardian ad litem serves and shall promptly advise each court
of any grounds for disqualification or unavailability to serve.
(12) A guardian ad
litem shall be responsible for providing the court or its designee with a
statement indicating compliance with all initial and continuing educational and
training requirements so the court may maintain the files required in division (G)
of this rule. The compliance statement
shall include information detailing the date, location, contents and credit
hours received for any relevant training course.
(13) A guardian ad litem shall make
reasonable efforts to become informed about the facts of the case and to
contact all parties. In order to provide
the court with relevant information and an informed recommendation as to the
child’s best interest, a guardian ad litem shall, at a minimum, do the
following, unless impracticable or inadvisable because of the age of the child
or the specific circumstances of a particular case:
(a) Meet with and interview the child and
observe the child with each parent, foster parent,
guardian or physical custodian and conduct at least one interview with the child
where none of these individuals is
Visit the child at his or her residence in accordance with any standards
established by the court in which
the guardian ad litem is appointed;
(c) Ascertain the wishes of the child;
Meet with and interview the parties, foster parents and other significant
individuals who may have relevant
knowledge regarding the issues of the case;
Review pleadings and other relevant court documents in the case in which the guardian ad litem is appointed;
Review criminal, civil, educational and administrative records pertaining to
the child and, if appropriate, to the
child’s family or to other parties in the case;
Interview school personnel, medical and mental health providers, child protective
services workers and relevant court
personnel and obtain copies of relevant records;
Recommend that the court order psychological evaluations, mental health and/or substance abuse assessments, or
other evaluations or tests of the parties as the guardian ad litem deems necessary or helpful to
the court; and
Perform any other investigation necessary to make an informed recommendation regarding the best interest of the
A guardian ad litem shall immediately identify himself or herself as a guardian
ad litem when contacting individuals in the course of a particular case and shall
inform these individuals about the guardian ad litem’s role and that documents
and information obtained may become part of court proceedings.
As an officer of the court, a guardian ad litem shall make no disclosures about
the case or the investigation except in reports to the court or as necessary to
perform the duties of a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem shall maintain
the confidential nature of personal identifiers, as defined in Rule 44 of the
Rules of Superintendence, or addresses where there are allegations of domestic
violence or risk to a party’s or child’s safety. A guardian ad litem may recommend that the
court restrict access to the report or a portion of the report, after trial, to
preserve the privacy, confidentiality, or safety of the parties or the person
for whom the guardian ad litem was appointed in accordance with Rule 45 of the
Rules of Superintendence. The court may,
upon application, and under such conditions as may be necessary to protect the
witnesses from potential harm, order disclosure of or access to the information
that addresses the need to challenge the truth of the information received from
the confidential source.
A guardian ad litem shall perform responsibilities in a prompt and timely
manner, and, if necessary, an attorney guardian ad litem may request timely
court reviews and judicial intervention in writing with notice to parties or
A guardian ad litem who is to be paid by the court or a party, shall keep
accurate records of the time spent, services rendered, and expenses incurred in
each case and file an itemized statement and accounting with the court and
provide a copy to each party or other entity responsible for payment.
(E) Training requirements
order to serve as a guardian ad litem, an applicant shall have, at a minimum,
the following training:
(1) Successful completion of a pre-service
training course to qualify for appointment and thereafter, successful
completion of continuing education training in each succeeding calendar year to
qualify for continued appointment.
The pre-service training course must be the six hour guardian ad litem
pre-service course provided by the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio CASA/GAL
Association’s pre-service training program, or with prior approval of the
appointing court, be a course at least six hours in length that covers the
topic areas in division (E) (3).
To meet the requirements of this rule, the pre-service course shall include
training on all the following topics:
Human needs and child development including, but not limited to, stages of
Communication and diversity including, but not limited to, communication skills
with children and adults,
interviewing skills, methods of critical questioning, use of open- ended questions, understanding the
perspective of the child, sensitivity, building trust, multicultural awareness, and confidentiality;
Preventing child abuse and neglect including, but not limited to, assessing
risk and safety;
Family and child issues including, but not limited to, family dynamics,
substance abuse and its effects,
basic psychopathology for adults and children, domestic violence and its effects;
Legal framework including, but not limited to, records checks, accessing,
assessing and appropriate
protocol, a guardian ad litem’s role in court, local resources and service practice, report content, mediation and
other types of dispute resolution.
The continuing education course must be at least three hours in length and be provided
by the Supreme Court of Ohio or by the Ohio CASA/GAL Association, or with prior
approval of the appointing court, be a training that complies with division (5)
of this rule.
To meet the requirements of this rule, the three hour continuing education
Be specifically designed for continuing education of guardians ad litem and not
pre- service education; and
Consist of advanced education related to topics identified in division (E)(3)
(a)–(e) of this rule.
If a guardian ad litem fails to complete a three hour continuing education
course within any calendar year, that person shall not be eligible to serve as
a guardian ad litem until this continuing education requirement is satisfied.
If the person’s gap in continuing education is three calendar years or less,
the person shall qualify to serve after completing a three hour continuing
education course offered under this rule. If the gap in continuing education is
more than three calendar years that person must complete a six hour pre-service
education course to qualify to serve.
(7) An individual who is currently serving as a guardian ad litem on the
effective date of this rule, or who has served during the five years
immediately preceding the effective date, shall have one year from the
effective date to obtain the required six hour pre-service training in order to
avoid removal from the court’s list of approved guardians ad litem.
Attendance at an Ohio Guardian ad Litem Training Program approved by the Supreme
Court of Ohio or at an Ohio CASA/Guardian Association pre-service training
program at any time prior to the effective date of this rule shall be deemed
compliance with the pre-service training requirement.
(F) Reports of
guardians ad litem
A guardian ad litem shall prepare a written
final report, including recommendations to the court, within the times set forth
in this division. The report shall
detail the activities performed, hearings attended, persons interviewed,
documents reviewed, experts consulted and all other relevant information
by the guardian ad litem in reaching the guardian ad litem’s recommendations
and in accomplishing
the duties required by statute, by court rule, and in the court’s Order of
Appointment. In addition, the following
provisions shall apply to guardian ad litem reports in the juvenile and domestic
relations divisions of Courts of Common Pleas:
(1) In juvenile abuse, neglect, and
dependency cases and actions to terminate parental
All reports, written or oral, shall be used by the court to ensure that the
guardian ad litem has performed
those responsibilities required by section 2151.281 of the Revised Code.
Oral and written reports may address the substantive allegations before the court,
but shall not be considered as conclusive
on the issues.
Unless waived by all parties or unless the due date is extended by the court, the
final report shall be filed with the
court and made available to the parties for inspection no less than seven days before the
dispositional hearing. Written reports maybe accessed in person
or by phone by the parties or their legal representatives.
A copy shall be provided to the
court at the hearing.
A guardian ad litem shall be available to testify at the dispositional hearing
and may orally supplement the final
report at the conclusion of the hearing.
A guardian ad litem also may file an interim report, written or oral, any time
prior to the dispositional
hearing and prior to hearings on actions to terminate parental rights. Written reports may be accessed in person or by phone by the parties or their legal representatives.
Any written interim report shall be filed with the court and made available to
the parties for inspection no
less than seven days before a hearing, unless the due date is extended by the court. Written
reports may be accessed in
person or by phone by the parties
or their legal representatives. A copy of the interim report shall be provided
to the court at the hearing.
(2) In domestic relations proceedings
involving the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, the final report
shall be filed with the court and made available to the parties for inspection no
less than seven days before the final hearing unless the due date is extended
by the court. Written reports may be accessed in person or by phone by the parties or their legal representatives. A copy of the final
report shall be provided to the court at the hearing. The court shall consider
the recommendation of the guardian ad litem in determining the best interest of
the child only when the report or a portion of the report has been admitted as
(G) Responsibilities of the court
to ensure that only qualified individuals perform the duties of guardians ad
litem and that the requirements of this rule are met, each court appointing guardians
ad litem shall do all of the following:
Maintain a public list of approved guardians ad litem while maintaining
individual privacy under Rules 44 through 47 of the Rules of Superintendence.
Establish criteria, which include all requirements of this rule, for appointment
and removal of guardians ad litem and procedures to ensure an equitable
distribution of the work load among the guardians ad litem on the list.
(3) Appoint or contract with a person to coordinate the application and
appointment process, keep the files and records required by this rule, maintain
information regarding training opportunities, receive written comments and
complaints regarding the performance of guardians ad litem practicing before
that court and perform other duties as assigned by the court.
(4) Maintain files for all applicants and for individuals approved for
appointment as guardians ad litem with the court. The files shall contain all records
and information required by this rule, and by local rules, for the selection and
service of guardians ad litem including a certificate or other satisfactory
proof of compliance with training requirements.
Require all applicants to submit a resume or information sheet stating the
applicant’s training, experience and expertise demonstrating the person’s
ability to successfully perform the responsibilities of a guardian ad litem.
Conduct, or cause to be conducted, a criminal and civil background check and
investigation of information relevant to the applicant’s fitness to serve as a
guardian ad litem.
Conduct, at least annually, a review of its list to determine that all
individuals are in compliance with the training and education requirements of
this rule and local rules, that they have performed satisfactorily on all
assigned cases during the preceding calendar year and are otherwise qualified
Require all individuals on its list to certify annually they are unaware of any
circumstances that would disqualify them from serving and to report the
training they have attended to comply with division (E) of this rule.
Each court shall develop a process or local rule and appoint a person for
accepting and considering written comments and complaints regarding the
performance of guardians ad litem practicing before that court. A copy of
comments and complaints submitted to the court shall be provided to the
guardian ad litem who is the subject of the complaint or comment. The person
appointed may forward any comments and complaints to the administrative judge
of the court for consideration and appropriate action. Dispositions by the
court shall be made promptly. The court shall maintain a written record in the
guardian ad litem’s file regarding the nature and disposition of any comment or
complaint and shall notify the person making the comment or complaint and the
subject guardian ad litem of the disposition.
Rule 99. Effective date
(JJ) Rule 48 of the Rules of Superintendence
adopted by the Court on January 20, 2009 shall take effect on March 1, 2009.