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(1) The youth court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the child:
(a) When a child has no parent, guardian or custodian;
(b) When the youth court cannot acquire personal jurisdiction over a parent, a guardian or a custodian;
(c) When the parent is a minor or a person of unsound mind;
(d) When the parent is indifferent to the interest of the child or if the interests of the child and the parent, considered in the context of the cause, appear to conflict;
(e) In every case involving an abused or neglected child which results in a judicial proceeding; or
(f) In any other instance where the youth court finds appointment of a guardian ad litem to be in the best interest of the child.
(2) The guardian ad litem shall be appointed by the court when custody is ordered or at the first judicial hearing regarding the case, whichever occurs first.
(3) In addition to all other duties required by law, a guardian ad litem shall have the duty to protect the interest of a child for whom he has been appointed guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem shall investigate, make recommendations to the court or enter reports as necessary to hold paramount the child's best interest. The guardian ad litem is not an adversary party and the court shall insure that guardians ad litem perform their duties properly and in the best interest of their wards. The guardian ad litem shall be a competent person who has no adverse interest to the minor. The court shall insure that the guardian ad litem is adequately instructed on the proper performance of his duties.
(4) The court, including a county court serving as a youth court, may appoint either a suitable attorney or a suitable layman as guardian ad litem. In cases where the court appoints a layman as guardian ad litem, the court shall also appoint an attorney to represent the child. From and after January 1, 1999, in order to be eligible for an appointment as a guardian ad litem, such attorney or layperson must have received child protection and juvenile justice training provided by or approved by the Mississippi Judicial College within the year immediately preceding such appointment. The Mississippi Judicial College shall determine the amount of child protection and juvenile justice training which shall be satisfactory to fulfill the requirements of this section. The Administrative Office of Courts shall maintain a roll of all attorneys and laymen eligible to be appointed as a guardian ad litem under this section and shall enforce the provisions of this subsection.
(5) Upon appointment of a guardian ad litem, the youth court shall continue any pending proceedings for a reasonable time to allow the guardian ad litem to familiarize himself with the matter, consult with counsel and prepare his participation in the cause.
(6) Upon order of the youth court, the guardian ad litem shall be paid a reasonable fee as determined by the youth court judge or referee out of the county general fund as provided under Section 43-21-123. To be eligible for such fee, the guardian ad litem shall submit an accounting of the time spent in performance of his duties to the court.
(7)(a) The court, in its sound discretion, may appoint a volunteer trained layperson to assist children subject to the provisions of this section in addition to the appointment of a guardian ad litem. If the court utilizes his or her discretion as prescribed under this subsection, a volunteer Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) shall be appointed from a program that supervises the volunteer and meets all state and national CASA standards to advocate for the best interests of children in abuse and neglect proceedings. To accomplish the assignment of a CASA volunteer, the court shall issue an order of assignment that shall grant the CASA volunteer the authority, equal to that of the guardian ad litem, to review all relevant documents and to interview all parties and witnesses involved in the proceeding in which he or she is appointed. Except as otherwise ordered by the court, the assignment of a CASA volunteer for a child shall include subsequent proceedings through permanent placement of the child.
(b) Before assigning a CASA volunteer as prescribed under this subsection, the youth court judge shall determine if the volunteer has sufficient qualifications, training and ability to serve as a CASA volunteer, including his or her ability to represent and advocate for the best interests of children assigned to him or her. No volunteer shall be assigned until a comprehensive criminal background check has been conducted.
All CASA volunteers shall:
(i) Be sworn in by a judge of the court;
(ii) Swear or affirm to abide by all laws, regulations, and orders of the court;
(iii) Swear or affirm to advocate what he or she perceives to be in the best interests of the child for whom he or she is assigned in all matters pending before the court;
(iv) Provide independent, factual information to the court regarding the children and cases to which they are assigned;
(v) Advocate on behalf of the children involved in the cases to which they are assigned what they perceive to be in the best interests of the children; and
(vi) Monitor proceedings in cases to which they have been assigned and advise and assist the court in its determination of the best interests of the children involved.
(c) Regarding any case to which a CASA volunteer has been assigned, the CASA volunteer:
(i) Shall be notified by the court of all court proceedings and hearings of any kind pertaining to the child;
(ii) Shall be notified by the Department of Human Services of all administrative review hearings;
(iii) Shall be entitled to attend all court proceedings and hearings of any kind pertaining to the child;
(iv) May be called as a witness in the proceedings by any party or by the court and may request of the court the opportunity to appear as a witness; and
(v) Shall be given access to all portions of the court record relating to proceedings pertaining to the child and the child's family.
(d) Upon application to the court and notice to all parties, the court shall grant the CASA volunteer access to other information, including the department records as provided in Section 43-21-261, relating to the child and the child's family and to other matters involved in the proceeding in which he or she is appointed. All records and information requested or reviewed by the CASA volunteer in the course of his or her assignment shall be deemed confidential and shall not be disclosed by him except pursuant to court order. All records and information shall only be disclosed as directed by court order and shall be disclosed as directed by court order and shall be subject to whatever protective order the court deems appropriate.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Mississippi Code Title 43. Public Welfare § 43-21-121. Appointment of guardian ad litem - last updated January 01, 2018 | https://codes.findlaw.com/ms/title-43-public-welfare/ms-code-sect-43-21-121/
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