Discretionary appointment of attorney ad litem

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03/28/2023, Legislation, Custody Disputes - Children

North Dakota already provided that children may be appointed  a guardian ad litem (subject to the judge's discretion) in certain contested parenting time and visitation matters, but in 2023, it enacted HB 1113, specifying that the guardian ad litem, if appointed, must be an attorney: 


In any action for an annulment, divorce, legal separation, or other action affecting marriage, when either party has reason for special concern as to the future of the minor child, and in any action when the parenting rights and responsibilities concerning the child is contested, the court, upon [its own motion] or by motion or agreement of the parties, may appoint an attorney guardian ad litem to represent the child concerning parenting rights and responsibilities.

N.D. Cent. Code § 14-09-06.4(1).  If neither party is able to pay for the attorney guardian ad litem, "the court may direct the fee to be paid, in whole or in part, by the county where the child resided [when the case was filed]."  But the parties may be made to reimburse the county.  N.D. Cent. Code § 14-09-06.4(3).

The court may also appoint "an attorney, guardian ad litem, or similar representative" for a child in proceedings to determine custody or visitation by a nonparent.  N.D. Cent. Code § 14-09.4-09(1).

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: yes