An Act To Ensure Accountability of Guardians Ad Litem and Parenting Coordinators
Sec. 1. 18-A MRSA §1-112, sub-§§(a) and (b), as enacted by PL 2005, c. 360, §1, are amended to read:
Sec. 2. 18-A MRSA §1-112, sub-§(f), as enacted by PL 2005, c. 360, §1, is amended to read:
Sec. 3. 19-A MRSA §1507, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2005, c. 360, §2, is further amended to read:
At the time of the appointment, the court shall specify the guardian ad litem's length of appointment, duties and fee arrangements as described in subsection 7.
Sec. 4. 19-A MRSA §1507, sub-§2, as amended by PL 1999, c. 251, §1, is further amended to read:
Sec. 5. 19-A MRSA §1507, sub-§3, as amended by PL 2005, c. 683, Pt. B, §9, is further amended to read:
(1) Interview the child face-to-face with or without another person present; and
(3) Make a written report of investigations, findings and recommendations as ordered by the court, with copies of the report to each party and the court.
(1) Interviewing the parents, teachers and other people who have knowledge of the child or family;
(2) Reviewing mental health, medical and school records of the child;
(3) Reviewing mental health and medical records of the parents;
(4) Having qualified people perform medical and mental evaluations of the child;
(5) Having qualified people perform medical and mental evaluations of the parents;
(6) Procuring counseling for the child;
(7) Retaining an attorney to represent the guardian ad litem in the pending proceeding, with approval of the court;
(8) Subpoenaing witnesses and documents and examining and cross-examining witnesses;
(9) Serving as a contact person between the parents and the child; or
(10) Other duties that the court determines necessary, including, but not limited to, filing pleadings.
If, in order to perform the duties, the guardian ad litem needs information concerning the child or parents, the court may order the parents to sign an authorization form allowing the release of the necessary information. The guardian ad litem must be allowed access to the child by caretakers of the child, whether the caretakers are individuals, authorized agencies or child care providers.
Sec. 6. 19-A MRSA §1507, sub-§§6 and 7, as enacted by PL 1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 and affected by Pt. E, §2, are amended to read:
Sec. 7. 19-A MRSA §1507, sub-§9 is enacted to read:
Sec. 8. 19-A MRSA §1659, sub-§1, ¶A, as enacted by PL 2009, c. 345, §2, is amended to read:
(1) On July 1, 2009 is listed in on the roster of guardians ad litem maintained by the Chief Judge of the District Court pursuant to rules adopted by the Supreme Judicial Court, or who holds one or more of the licenses listed in the rules and is listed on the roster after July 1, 2009 after completing the other requirements set forth in the rules . The requirements must include at least a minimum amount of completed course work in social work; and
(2) Meets any other qualifications and requirements established by the Supreme Judicial Court.
Sec. 9. 19-A MRSA §1659, sub-§2, ¶B, as enacted by PL 2009, c. 345, §2, is amended to read:
Sec. 10. 19-A MRSA §1659, sub-§7, as enacted by PL 2009, c. 345, §2, is amended to read:
Sec. 11. 22 MRSA §4005, sub-§1, ¶G, as enacted by PL 2001, c. 253, §4, is amended to read:
This bill ensures that guardians ad litem and parenting coordinators are accountable. This bill:
1. Requires the court to impose limits on the extent of investigations to be undertaken by a guardian ad litem to prevent escalation of conflict and antagonistic conduct of the parents and to protect children from long-term exposure to traumatic processes;
2. Requires all guardians ad litem and parenting coordinators to have sufficient education and training in social work;
3. Requires the court to set expenditure limits on guardian ad litem and parenting coordinator fees and any other costs incurred in investigations or the completion of the duties of the appointment;
4. Removes the quasi-judicial immunity provided to guardians ad litem and parenting coordinators by statute; and
5. Allows a cause of action and the award of punitive damages against guardians ad litem and parenting coordinators who falsely accuse parties of abuse or neglect or who intentionally exclude from reports to the parties or the court relevant information.