Erin Durnell answers:
Often, when a guardian ad litem is appointed by a judge, it is through a community organization or county program which funds the guardian ad litem’s work. One of the drawbacks of using a community-based program can be that their staff GALs have heavy caseloads, and their volunteer pool may be limited. This means that families may have to wait for a GAL to be appointed.
Families that wish to have the services of a guardian ad litem without waiting for a community-based program to be able to staff it, or who do not wish to pay for a full-blown custody evaluation using a Ph.D.-level evaluator, may elect to agree to the appointment of a private GAL. A private GAL contractually agrees with the parties regarding payment and initiation of services, eliminating delay.