SECTION 63-3-830. Responsibilities.
(A) The responsibilities and duties of a guardian ad litem include, but are not limited to:

(1) representing the best interest of the child;

(2) conducting an independent, balanced, and impartial investigation to determine the facts relevant to the situation of the child and the family. An investigation must include, but is not limited to:

(a) obtaining and reviewing relevant documents, except that a guardian ad litem must not be compensated for reviewing documents related solely to financial matters not relevant to the suitability of the parents as to custody, visitation, or child support. The guardian ad litem shall have access to the child’s school records and medical records. The guardian ad litem may petition the family court for the medical records of the parties;

(b) meeting with and observing the child on at least one occasion;

(c) visiting the home settings if deemed appropriate;

(d) interviewing parents, caregivers, school officials, law enforcement, and others with knowledge relevant to the case;

(e) obtaining the criminal history of each party when determined necessary; and

(f) considering the wishes of the child, if appropriate;

(3) advocating for the child’s best interest by making specific and clear suggestions, when necessary, for evaluation, services, and treatment for the child and the child’s family. Evaluations or other services suggested by the guardian ad litem must not be ordered by the court, except upon proper approval by the court or by consent of the parties;

(4) attending all court hearings related to custody and visitation issues, except when attendance is excused by the court or the absence is stipulated by both parties. A guardian must not be compensated for attending a hearing related solely to a financial matter if the matter is not relevant to the suitability of the parents as to custody, visitation, or child support. The guardian must provide accurate, current information directly to the court, and that information must be relevant to matters pending before the court;

(5) maintaining a complete file, including notes. A guardian’s notes are his work product and are not subject to subpoena; and

(6) presenting to the court and all parties clear and comprehensive written reports including, but not limited to, a final written report regarding the child’s best interest. The final written report may contain conclusions based upon the facts contained in the report. The final written report must be submitted to the court and all parties no later than twenty days prior to the merits hearing, unless that time period is modified by the court, but in no event later than ten days prior to the merits hearing. The ten-day requirement for the submission of the final written report may only be waived by mutual consent of both parties. The final written report must not include a recommendation concerning which party should be awarded custody, nor may the guardian ad litem make a recommendation as to the issue of custody at the merits hearing unless requested by the court for reasons specifically set forth on the record. The guardian ad litem is subject to cross-examination on the facts and conclusions contained in the final written report. The final written report must include the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of those interviewed during the investigation.

(B) A guardian ad litem may submit briefs, memoranda, affidavits, or other documents on behalf of the child. A guardian ad litem may also submit affidavits at the temporary hearing. Any report or recommendation of a guardian ad litem must be submitted in a manner consistent with the South Carolina Rules of Evidence and other state law.

HISTORY: 2008 Act No. 361, § 2.