Ad Litem

An Ad Litem is a legal representative appointed by the court to act in a lawsuit on behalf of another party who is deemed incapable of representing themselves.

Meaning of Ad Litem

Ad litem is Latin for “for the lawsuit.” This individual is a legal representative appointed by the court to act on behalf of another party, typically a child or an incapacitated adult.

Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

A guardian ad litem is specifically designated to advocate for the best interests of a child involved in a legal proceeding. This may include cases of divorce, custody battles, child abuse, neglect, or adoption. The primary duty of a GAL is to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the child’s welfare and make recommendations to the court based on their findings.

In Texas, the appointment of a guardian is governed by statutes and court rules that aim to ensure the child’s rights and protect their well-being.

The role of a legal guardian in family law proceedings is multifaceted and demanding.

Firstly, the GAL conducts an independent investigation into the child’s circumstances, which may involve interviewing the child, parents, relatives, teachers, counselors, and other relevant parties. This investigation aims to gather comprehensive information about the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological needs, as well as the dynamics of the family environment.

Furthermore, the guardian ad litem evaluates the child’s living situation, including the quality of care provided by each parent or guardian, the presence of any instances of abuse or neglect, and the child’s attachment to their caregivers. This evaluation forms the basis for the GAL’s recommendations to the court regarding custody, visitation, and other matters affecting the child’s welfare.

In addition to investigation and recommendation, a guardian in Texas may also act as a legal advocate for the child, representing their best interests in court proceedings. This includes presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and making legal arguments on behalf of the child.

The GAL’s overarching goal is to ensure that the child’s voice is heard and their rights are protected throughout the legal process.

Relevant Law: Texas Family Code Section 107.001.

Guardian Ad Litem

Attorney Ad Litem

It is important to note that the role of a guardian ad litem is distinct from that of an attorney ad litem, who is appointed to provide legal representation to a party, such as a child or incapacitated adult, in a legal proceeding.

While an attorney focuses on advocating for their client’s legal rights and interests, the guardian’s primary allegiance is to the child’s best interests, which may sometimes diverge from the child’s expressed wishes or legal strategy.


The legal definition of ad litem in Texas encompasses the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of children in family law proceedings. The role of a GAL is pivotal in safeguarding the welfare of children and ensuring that their voices are heard in legal matters that profoundly impact their lives.

Through investigation, advocacy, and recommendation, the guardian ad litem plays a vital role in promoting the well-being and protection of children within the Texas legal system.