Sec. 107.002: Powers and Duties of Guardian Ad Litem for Child

(a) A guardian ad litem appointed for a child under this chapter is not a party to the suit but may:

(1) conduct an investigation to the extent that the guardian ad litem considers necessary to determine the best interests of the child; and

(2) obtain and review copies of the child's relevant medical, psychological, and school records as provided by Section 107.006.

(b) A guardian ad litem appointed for the child under this chapter shall:

(1) within a reasonable time after the appointment, interview:

(A) the child in a developmentally appropriate manner, if the child is four years of age or older;

(B) each person who has significant knowledge of the child's history and condition, including educators, child welfare service providers, and any foster parent of the child; and

(C) the parties to the suit;

(2) seek to elicit in a developmentally appropriate manner the child's expressed objectives;

(3) consider the child's expressed objectives without being bound by those objectives;

(4) encourage settlement and the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution; and

(5) perform any specific task directed by the court.

(b-1) In addition to the duties required by Subsection (b), a guardian ad litem appointed for a child in a proceeding under Chapter 262 or 263 shall:

(1) review the medical care provided to the child;

(2) in a developmentally appropriate manner, seek to elicit the child's opinion on the medical care provided; and

(3) for a child at least 16 years of age, ascertain whether the child has received the following documents:

(A) a certified copy of the child's birth certificate;

(B) a social security card or a replacement social security card;

(C) a driver's license or personal identification certificate under Chapter 521, Transportation Code; and

(D) any other personal document the Department of Family and Protective Services determines appropriate.

(c) A guardian ad litem appointed for the child under this chapter is entitled to:

(1) receive a copy of each pleading or other paper filed with the court in the case in which the guardian ad litem is appointed;

(2) receive notice of each hearing in the case;

(3) participate in case staffings by the Department of Family and Protective Services concerning the child;

(4) attend all legal proceedings in the case but may not call or question a witness or otherwise provide legal services unless the guardian ad litem is a licensed attorney who has been appointed in the dual role;

(5) review and sign, or decline to sign, an agreed order affecting the child;

(6) explain the basis for the guardian ad litem's opposition to the agreed order if the guardian ad litem does not agree to the terms of a proposed order;

(7) have access to the child in the child's placement;

(8) be consulted and provide comments on decisions regarding placement, including kinship, foster care, and adoptive placements;

(9) evaluate whether the child welfare services providers are protecting the child's best interests regarding appropriate care, treatment, services, and all other foster children's rights listed in Section 263.008;

(10) receive notification regarding and an invitation to attend meetings related to the child's service plan and a copy of the plan; and

(11) attend court-ordered mediation regarding the child's case.

(d) The court may compel the guardian ad litem to attend a trial or hearing and to testify as necessary for the proper disposition of the suit.

(e) Unless the guardian ad litem is an attorney who has been appointed in the dual role and subject to the Texas Rules of Evidence, the court shall ensure in a hearing or in a trial on the merits that a guardian ad litem has an opportunity to testify regarding, and is permitted to submit a report regarding, the guardian ad litem's recommendations relating to:

(1) the best interests of the child; and

(2) the bases for the guardian ad litem's recommendations.

(f) In a nonjury trial, a party may call the guardian ad litem as a witness for the purpose of cross-examination regarding the guardian's report without the guardian ad litem being listed as a witness by a party. If the guardian ad litem is not called as a witness, the court shall permit the guardian ad litem to testify in the narrative.

(g) In a contested case, the guardian ad litem shall provide copies of the guardian ad litem's report, if any, to the attorneys for the parties as directed by the court, but not later than the earlier of:

(1) the date required by the scheduling order; or

(2) the 10th day before the date of the commencement of the trial.

(h) Disclosure to the jury of the contents of a guardian ad litem's report to the court is subject to the Texas Rules of Evidence.

(i) A guardian ad litem appointed to represent a child in the managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services shall, before each scheduled hearing under Chapter 263, determine whether the child's educational needs and goals have been identified and addressed.

Comments

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 943, Sec. 10, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1294, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 262, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 172 (H.B. 307), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 204 (H.B. 915), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2013.

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 688 (H.B. 2619), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2013.

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1 (S.B. 219), Sec. 1.032, eff. April 2, 2015.

Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 317 (H.B. 7), Sec. 7, eff. September 1, 2017.

Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 319 (S.B. 11), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2017.

Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 937 (S.B. 1758), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2017.