Guardian Ad Litem

This guide briefly discusses issues related to the appointment and responsibilities of guardians ad litem in Washington State.   Visit either of the following web sites for definitions of the terms used here:


A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an adult who is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a vulnerable or underage individual for a specific purpose, for a specific period of time.  The GAL will investigate the situations of all parties and make recommendations to the court based upon the child’s or dependent adult’s best interests.  You may be entitled to a family investigator, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) or GAL depending on your case.  You may or may not be charged for these services depending on your particular circumstances.

Laws and Court Rules Related to GALs

Laws concerning guardians ad litem are found in a variety of different RCW Titles including RCW Title 2.56, RCW Title 11.88, RCW Title 13.34 and RCW Title 26.12 and RCW Title 26 generally.

Forms and Instructions Related to GALs

Instructions and forms specific to appointing and working with GALs and all of the State-mandated family law forms can be found at the Washington State Court’s website: Guardian Ad Litem Court Forms.

Related Books

  • Best Interests of the Child, the least detrimental alternative. KF 547 .B47 1996. Seminal work in guiding child custody decisions.
  • Child-Centered Residential Schedules, KF 547 .W37 REF. This pamphlet describes suggested child-centered residential schedules for families which require intervention by the courts.
  • Washington Family Law Deskbook, KF 505 Z99 W36 2000 REF. This 3 volume set contains detailed information about marriage, dissolution, and child custody matters. It is a good source for discussions of the law and of the policies that underlie the law. It also briefly addresses guardianships, parentage, non-marital couples, and domestic violence.
  • Washington Community Property Deskbook, KF 526 .W38. This publication examines the ownership of property by married people in Washington. It details the basics of characterizing property as “his-hers-ours” and includes a discussion of creditor’s rights and tax considerations.
  • Washington Practice, KFW 80 .W3 REF. Volumes 19 to 22 of this invaluable resource cover Family and Community Property Law. Here you will find detailed and technical discussions of all aspects of domestic relations law.

If You Need More Help

Guide to Family Law Clinics & Resources in King County

Family Law Facilitators: For divorce, parenting plans, and support only. The Family Law Facilitators, located in Room W382 in the King County Courthouse and Room 3D in the Maleng Regional Justice Center, can provide information on court rules and procedures, and review forms to make sure they are complete. They cannot give legal advice, provide or fill out forms, or assist in trial preparation. We encourage you to make an appointment to have all your paperwork reviewed prior to filing. There are limited walk-in hours in the mornings; we recommend you call for an appointment. 206-296-9092

Legal Voice (formerly known as Northwest Women’s Law Center): This non-profit agency provides classes, publications, and referrals for women and men living in the Northwest.  Use the Tools & Resources menu option on their web site to see the range of services available.

CLEAR (Coordinated Legal Education, Advice, and Referral): CLEAR is Northwest Justice Project’s innovative statewide toll-free telephone service for low-income people to obtain free legal assistance with civil legal problems in Washington state. The hotline operates between 9:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. CLEAR Sr. is a similar project which serves people age 60 and over regardless of their financial situation.

CLEAR – 1-888-201-1014

CLEAR Sr. (60 and over) – 1-888-387-7111

Links Updated: January 2022