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A. The Court may appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to protect the interest(s) of the child(ren) in proceedings pursuant to this chapter when:

1. No parent, guardian, custodian or relative of the child appears at the first or any subsequent hearing in the case;

2. The Court finds that there may be a conflict of interest between the child(ren) and parent(s), guardian or other custodian;

3. The Court finds that it is in the child(ren)’s interest(s) and welfare and necessary whether or not a parent, guardian or other custodian is present.

B. The Court may appoint a Guardian Ad Litem for any parent in proceedings pursuant to this Title who has been determined to be mentally ill by a court of competent jurisdiction or is developmentally disabled; except that, if a conservator has been appointed, the conservator may serve as the Guardian Ad Litem. If the conservator does not serve as guardian ad litem, the conservator shall be informed that a Guardian Ad Litem has been appointed.

C. At the time any child first appears in Court, if it is determined that there is no guardian of the person, the Court shall appoint a guardian of the person of the child before proceeding with the matter.

D. In all proceedings brought for the protection of a child suffering from abuse or nonaccidental injury, a Guardian Ad Litem may be appointed for said child. Said guardian shall have the power to represent the child in the legal proceedings.

E. All Guardians Ad Litem shall, whenever practical, be required to personally visit the place of residence of the child(ren).

F. In addition to appointing a guardian ad litem, when the Court finds the interests of a child are best served, the Court may appoint a Court Appointed Special Advocate, at no fee if possible. The Court Appointed Special Advocate shall be an officer of the Court with full access to the case file and documents and shall be subject to the Court’s rules of confidentiality. The Court Appointed Special Advocate shall be provided with all reports relevant to the case made to or by an agency or person pursuant to this Code and with reports of any examination of the responsible person made pursuant to this section. The Court or the social services worker assigned to the case shall advise the Court Appointed Special Advocate of significant developments in the case, particularly any further allegations of abuse or neglect of the child involved. The Court Appointed Special Advocate shall be charged in general with the representation of the child’s best interest, and shall provide a written report and recommendations to the Court at each review hearing or as otherwise directed by the Court. Any reference to a Guardian ad Litem within this chapter shall also mean a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. ONCA 12-21, eff. Mar. 30, 2012.