The Difference Between a Legal Guardian and a Guardian Ad Litem
Our Pearland family law and probate court attorney explains the difference between a legal guardian and a guardian ad litem in Texas.
Making sure the rights and best interests of children and vulnerable adults are protected is a top priority for the Texas courts. In handling their personal affairs and legal matters, it is important to have someone on their side, looking after them. Appointing a legal guardian or a guardian ad litem may be necessary, but there are key differences in each of these roles.
The Role of a Legal Guardian in Pearland Estate Planning
Guardianship proceedings are held through the Brazoria County Probate Court. They protect children when parents are deceased or otherwise incapacitated, as well as vulnerable and incapacitated adults.
A guardian may be a relative, family friend, legal or financial professional, or an agency. The individual or group charged with acting as a guardian may be specified in advance through a will or other estate planning documents or they may be appointed through the court when the need arises. Once a guardianship is established, the child or vulnerable adult is considered the guardian’s legal ward. This gives the guardian authority in making personal, medical, and financial decisions on their behalf. To be appointed as a guardian, you will need to file a petition with the court that includes the following information:
- The reasons why a guardianship is being sought and a description of the limitations that prevent the child or vulnerable adult from managing their own affairs;
- The extent of the guardianship powers being requested;
- The duration of time a guardian is expected to be needed;
- A complete inventory of all property and assets the proposed legal ward possesses, its value, and any ongoing income or benefits they are entitled to receive.
Once a guardian is appointed, they will need to report to the court on a regular basis regarding the well-being of their legal ward and how their affairs are being managed.
When is a Guardian Ad Litem Needed?
In contrast to a legal guardian, who has authority in handling a variety of personal and legal matters for extended periods of time, a guardian ad litem is appointed for a single court proceeding. In addition to protecting the best interests of children in family court matters, a guardian ad litem may be appointed when a guardianship is being considered. Under the Texas Statutes, their duties generally include:
- Investigating the case and recommending whether a guardianship is needed;
- Evaluating alternatives to guardianship, including social services available to the proposed ward;
- Submitting evaluations and any other relevant information to the court
Request a Consultation to Discuss Guardian and Guardian Ad Litem Proceedings with Our Pearland, TX Divorce Attorney
With over 20 years of experience, Pearland, TX divorce attorney John Powell III, P.C. provides the trusted legal guidance and professional representation you need in pursuing a guardianship and in guardian ad litem proceedings. To request a consultation, call or contact our office online today.