Custody Guardian ad Litem Pro Bono Attorney Training Manual

Below you will find Children's Law Center's comprehensive Custody Guardian ad Litem Training Manual, broken up into its component tabs, which you can download individually at the bottom of the page.

Tab 1 - Introduction
The introduction includes the manual table of contents, a list of contacts at Children’s Law Center, and frequently asked questions about the pro bono program at Children’s Law Center.

Tab 2 - Beginning Steps and Overview for Serving as a Guardian ad Litem in Complex Custody Cases
Tab 2 includes a primer on serving as a custody guardian ad litem in DC and helpful practice pointers. Also includes checklists for your case and initial client and party interview tips.

Tab 3 - Custody and Domestic Violence Law and Procedure in DC
Tab 3 includes a primer on custody law in DC and and an overview of the procedural steps of a custody case. Also includes a primer on Civil Protection Order cases and a Domestic Violence case digest.

Tab 4 - Sources of Law
Tab 4 includes references to relevant statutes, court rules, administrative orders, and court memoranda governing domestic relations cases in DC Superior Court.

Tab 5 - Defining the Role of a Guardian ad Litem in Custody Cases
Tab 5 includes materials related to custody guardian ad litem best practice, including relevant case law, model standards, and 2014 Practice Standards.

Tab 6 - Case Realities and Cross-Cultural Lawyering
Tab 6 includes information about DC's children, the stressors of living in poverty, and how lawyers can navigate these challenges with their clients.

Tab 7 - Representing Children in High Conflict Cases
Tab 7 includes information on child development and tips for working with children.

Tab 8 - Understanding Domestic Violence
Tab 8 includes relevant domestic violence research as it relates to custody recommendations.

Tab 9 - Overview of Trauma, Substance Abuse, and Child Abuse and Neglect
Tab 9 includes information about trauma and its impact on kids, as well as how to navigate child abuse allegations in the midst of a custody case and the effects of substance abuse on parenting.

Tab 10 - Services and Resources Available in Domestic Relations Cases
Tab 10 includes a variety of resources for guardians ad litem, including assessment tools, parent coordination, mediation,  researching court records, and a list of court contacts.

Tab 11 -  GAL Sample Pleadings and Templates
Tab 11 includes a sample appointment order, a model authorization for release of records, and a list of model pleadings available through both Children’s Law Center and the DC Bar.