Question from AndyP, How to Contest GAL Fee Responsibility?
Answer from AI:
If you have been appointed as co-guardians for your adult child who has been declared legally incompetent, and you are facing an issue with the payment of the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) fees, it’s important to understand the legal framework and the steps you can take to address this matter.
Understanding GAL Fees and G.S. 35A-1116
Guardian ad Litem fees are typically associated with the costs of having a court-appointed advocate to represent the best interests of the respondent (in this case, your adult child) during legal proceedings. According to North Carolina General Statute (G.S.) 35A-1116, the responsibility for these fees can fall on different parties depending on the circumstances of the case.
- If the respondent is adjudicated incompetent and is not indigent, the fees are the responsibility of the respondent.
- If the respondent is not adjudicated incompetent but there were reasonable grounds to bring the proceedings, and the respondent is not indigent, the fees are again the responsibility of the respondent.
- If the respondent is not adjudicated incompetent and there were not reasonable grounds to bring the proceedings, the fees are the responsibility of the petitioner.
- If the respondent is indigent, the fees are typically covered by the Office of Indigent Defense Services.
Steps to Contest the Clerk’s Decision
Given that your adult child has been found incompetent and is indigent, it would seem that the GAL fees should be covered by the Office of Indigent Defense Services, not you as the petitioners. To contest the clerk’s decision, consider the following steps:
- Review the Correspondence: Carefully read the correspondence from the clerk to ensure you understand the basis of their decision.
- Consult with an Attorney: It may be beneficial to consult with an attorney who specializes in guardianship law to get advice tailored to your specific situation.
- File a Motion: You may need to file a motion in the court that issued the guardianship order, requesting a review or reconsideration of the clerk’s decision regarding the GAL fees.
- Prepare Documentation: Gather any documents that support your position, such as evidence of your child’s indigence or any other relevant financial information.
- Attend a Hearing: If a hearing is scheduled, be prepared to present your case to the judge, explaining why the Office of Indigent Defense Services should be responsible for the GAL fees.
It’s important to act promptly, as there may be deadlines for contesting such decisions. Keep all records of correspondence and any legal filings, and make sure to follow the court’s procedures carefully.
Seeking Legal Advice
While this information provides a general guideline, legal matters can be complex and outcomes can vary based on the specifics of each case. For personalized advice, it is recommended that you consult with a legal professional who can provide guidance based on the details of your situation.
For more information on guardianship and GAL, you can refer to the North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 35A.
Remember, it is crucial to ensure that your actions align with the legal requirements and court procedures to effectively advocate for your position regarding the GAL fees.