Protecting Children’s Well-being and Their Rights

Voices’ child advocacy attorneys specialize in legal advocacy for child victims of abuse and neglect.

Guardians ad Litem in Missouri

A guardian ad litem (GAL) serves as the legal representative of a child in an abuse and neglect case. The GAL is charged with representing the best interests of the child as determined through independent investigation and the court process. This can sometimes be different than advocating for what the child wants (expressed wishes).

In 1996, the Supreme Court of Missouri established voluntary standards for GALs in Juvenile and Family Court Division matters. With the passage of HB 1570 in August 2008, these standards became mandatory in 2011. Each judicial circuit must devise a plan of implementation which takes into account the individual needs of its circuit, as well as the negative impact that excessive caseloads have upon the effectiveness of counsel.

In preparation for the statewide adoption of the standards, the Family Court Committee of the Missouri Supreme Court appointed a subcommittee to review the current standards for GALs, and make recommendations for revision. The mandatory GAL standards will directly impact outcomes for foster children throughout the state as they will influence the quality of children’s legal representation.

Ensuring that these standards reflect best practices is particularly important to Voices’ child advocacy attorneys. The leadership of Voices for Children and the Missouri CASA Association were appointed to this 14-member GAL standards subcommittee. Voices has actively worked to strengthen the standards based on best practices to ensure they serve the best interests of abused and neglected children throughout the state.

Learn more…Missouri GAL Standards