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Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Standing Order 2-98: Tracking of Appointments Of Guardians Ad Litem and Probation Officers to Conduct Investigations in Domestic Relations and Child Welfare Matters

[Disclaimer]

It is ordered that the Probation Department of each Division shall track all appointments of Guardians Ad Litem and Probation Officers to conduct investigations in Domestic Relations and Child Welfare matters.

The following procedure will be followed:

1. When a Judge appoints a Guardian Ad Litem (G.A.L.) or a Probation Officer (P.O.) to conduct an investigation in Domestic Relations or Child Welfare matters, the person preparing the appointment form will provide the Probation Department with a copy of the completed form.

2. Upon receipt of the copy of the appointment form the Probation Department will prepare a tracking system which will record, at a minimum, the following:

3. The G.A.L. will file his/her report with the Probation Department on or before the due date. In situations where the G.A.L. has not filed his/her report in a timely fashion, the Probation Department will contact the G.A.L., either by telephone or in writing, to notify him/her of the need to file the Report and determine if an extension is necessary. If the G.A.L. fails to respond or fails to meet the agreed upon due date, the Probation Department shall notify the Judge who made the appointment of this fact and seek further instruction. It is expected that the Probation Department has in place a mechanism to ensure the timeliness of Reports on investigations performed by its Probation Officers in accordance with the Standards of the Office of the Commissioner of Probation.

4. Once the Report is filed, the Probation Department will notify in writing the attorney(s) of record, if any, or the litigant(s) if pro se that the Report has been filed and is available for inspection; how to inspect the Report; and that it is required that counsel or a party, within thirty (30) days from the date of the notice, request the hearing of the matter as an uncontested matter or the scheduling of a pre-trial conference. In its notice the Probation Department shall give a brief description of the process for requesting an uncontested hearing or pre-trial conference. For pro se litigants, a Trial Request Form shall be sent with the notice.

5. Once the Probation Office has recorded the receipt of the G.A.L. Report, the Report shall be filed and stored in accordance with the directions of the First Justice.

6. After thirty (30) days from the date of notice to counsel or the parties the Probation Department will contact the Trial Department to establish whether a Trial Request Form has been received requesting an uncontested hearing or a pre-trial conference. If no request has been received, the Trial Assignment Clerk shall schedule a pre-trial conference.

7. On the first day of each month, the Probation Department will supply each judge with a status report on his/her outstanding G.A.L. and/or Probation Officer investigations and a report to the First Justice as to the status of all Guardian Ad Litem and Probation Officer investigations in the Division. The court shall provide a copy of this protocol to the Guardian Ad Litem with each appointment.

Adopted September 22, 1998, effective October 1, 1998.