Rule 1151. Assignment of Guardian Ad Litem and Counsel.
A. Guardian ad litem for child. The court shall assign a guardian ad litem to represent the legal interests and the best interests of the child if a proceeding has been commenced pursuant to Rule 1200 alleging a child to be dependent who:
1) is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for the physical, mental or emotional health, or morals;
2) has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law;
3) has been abandoned by parents, guardian, or other custodian;
4) is without a parent, guardian or legal custodian; or
5) is born to a parent whose parental rights with regard to another child have been involuntarily terminated under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511 (relating to grounds for involuntary termination) within three years immediately preceding the date of birth of the child and conduct of the parent poses a risk to the health, safety, or welfare of the child.
B. Counsel for child. The court shall appoint legal counsel for a child:
1) if a proceeding has been commenced pursuant to Rule 1200 alleging a child to be dependent who:
a) while subject to compulsory school attendance is habitually and without justification truant from school;
b) has committed a specific act or acts of habitual disobedience of the reasonable and lawful commands of the childs guardian and who is ungovernable and found to be in need of care, treatment, or supervision;
c) is under the age of ten years and has committed a delinquent act;
d) has been formerly adjudicated dependent, and is under the jurisdiction of the court, subject to its conditions or placements and who commits an act which is defined as ungovernable in paragraph (B)(1)(b);
e) has been referred pursuant to section 6323 (relating to informal adjustment), and who commits an act which is defined as ungovernable in paragraph (B)(1)(b); or
f) has filed a motion for resumption of jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 1634; or
2) upon order of the court.
C. Counsel and Guardian ad litem for child. If a child has legal counsel and a guardian ad litem, counsel shall represent the legal interests of the child and the guardian ad litem shall represent the best interests of the child.
D. Time of appointment.
1) Child in custody. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem or legal counsel immediately after a child is taken into protective custody and prior to any proceeding.
2) Child not in custody. If the child is not in custody, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem or legal counsel for the child when a dependency petition is filed.
E. Counsel for other parties. If counsel does not enter an appearance for a party, the court shall inform the party of the right to counsel prior to any proceeding. If counsel is requested by a party in any case, the court shall assign counsel for the party if the party is without financial resources or otherwise unable to employ counsel. Counsel shall be appointed prior to the first court proceeding.
See 42 Pa.C.S. § § 6302, 6311, and 6337.
The guardian ad litem for the child may move the court for appointment as legal counsel and assignment of a separate guardian ad litem, when, for example, the information that the guardian ad litem possesses gives rise to the conflict and can be used to the detriment of the child. To the extent 42 Pa.C.S. § 6311(b)(9) is inconsistent with this rule, it is suspended. See Rule 1800. See also Pa.R.P.C. 1.7 and 1.8.
Pursuant to paragraph (B)(1)(f), the court is to appoint legal counsel when a motion for resumption of jurisdiction has been filed. It is best practice to appoint the guardian ad litem or legal counsel who was previously assigned to the child as legal counsel.
Under paragraph (C), legal counsel represents the legal interests of the child and the guardian ad litem represents the best interests of the child.
Nothing in these rules anticipates that a guardian ad litem for an adult is to be appointed by these rules. For appointment of a guardian of the person, see 20 Pa.C.S. § 5501 et seq. and Pa.O.C. Rules 14.214.5.
Pursuant to paragraph (E), the court is to inform all parties of the right to counsel if they appear at a hearing without counsel. If a party is without financial resources or otherwise unable to employ counsel, the court is to appoint counsel prior to the proceeding. Because of the nature of the proceedings, it is extremely important that every guardian has an attorney. Therefore, the court is to encourage the childs guardian to obtain counsel. Pursuant to Rule 1120, a guardian is any parent, custodian, or other person who has legal custody of a child, or person designated by the court to be a temporary guardian for purposes of a proceeding. See Pa.R.J.C.P. 1120.
Rule 1151 adopted August 21, 2006, effective February 1, 2007. Amended February 20, 2007, effective immediately. Amended May 12, 2008, effective immediately. Amended April 29, 2011, effective July 1, 2011. Amended October 21, 2013, effective December 1, 2013.
Committee Explanatory Reports:
Final Report explaining the provisions of Rule 1151 published with the Courts Order at 36 Pa.B. 5571 (September 2, 2006).
Final Report explaining the amendments to this rule published with the Courts order at 37 Pa.B. 1123 (March 10, 2007).
Final Report explaining the amendments to Rule 1151 published with the Courts Order at 38 Pa.B. 2360 (May 24, 2008).
Final Report explaining the amendments to Rule 1151 published with the Courts Order at 41 Pa.B. 2430 (May 14, 2011).
Final Report explaining the amendments to Rule 1151 published with the Courts Order at 43 Pa.B. 6658 (November 9, 2013).
The provisions of this Rule 1151 amended February 20, 2007, effective immediately; amended May 12, 2008, effective May 12, 2008, 38 Pa.B. 2360; amended April 29, 2011, effective July 1, 2011, 41 Pa.B. 2430; amended October 21, 2013, effective December 1, 2013, 43 Pa.B. 6658. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (357336) to (357337).
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