become a witness, and obligations to clients under Rule 1. 14. 135 The GAL is to serve as an
independent advocate to explain the process, convey the client’s wishes to the court where
appropriate, introduce evidence, and help move the proceedings along toward resolution. 136 As
an attorney, the GAL is required to investigate, but as an agent of the child and not the court. 137
The GAL is not, however, bound by the client’s wishes; a GAL must apply “objective legal
standards to [the facts of the case] to arrive at and then advocate for a disposition that would
serve the child’s best interests.” 138
In the event that the trial court wants an investigator, the Morgan court highlighted the formal
statutorily-defined “Friend of the Court” role as an option in lieu of, or in addition to, the
GAL. 139 The Friend of the Court, who must be an attorney, is represented to “investigate the
child’s and the parents’ situations, to file a report summarizing his or her findings, and to make
recommendations as to the outcome of the proceeding.” 140 Friends of the Court make
recommendations to the trial court based on the best interests factors, provide a report to the
court, and are subject to examination. 141 The trial court may appoint both a GAL and a Friend
of the Court, but the court should not ask one person to perform both roles. 142
The Court also delineated a third role, referred to as “de facto Friend of the Court,” which
includes investigators and other professionals to analyze custodial arrangements and make
recommendations to the court. 143 These investigators, who need not be attorneys, may consult
135 Ky. Sup. Ct. R. 3. 130 ( 1. 14).
139 Morgan, 441 S.W.3d at 103; KRS 403.090; FRCPP 6 (allowing for the appointment of court investigators).
140 Morgan, 441 S.W.3d at 111.
141 Id. at 119; KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 403.290( 2) (West, Westlaw through Ch. 7, 12, 13 of the 2017 Reg. Sess.).