9-13-106. Custody of minor children; representation by attorney ad litem in probate court
(a) The Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts is authorized to establish attorney ad litem programs to represent children in guardianship cases in circuit court when custody is an issue.
(b) When a circuit judge determines that the appointment of an attorney ad litem would facilitate a case in which custody is an issue and further protect the rights of the child, the circuit judge may appoint a private attorney to represent the child.
(c)(1) The Supreme Court, with advice of the circuit judges, shall adopt standards of practice and qualifications for service for attorneys who seek to be appointed to provide legal representation for children in guardianship cases.
(2)(A) In extraordinary cases, the circuit court may appoint an attorney ad litem who does not meet the required standards and qualifications.
(B) The attorney may not be appointed in subsequent cases until he or she has made efforts to meet the standards and qualifications.
(d) When attorneys are appointed pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the fees for services and reimburseable expenses shall be paid from funds appropriated for that purpose to the Administrative Office of the Courts.
(e)(1) When a judge orders the payment of funds for the fees and expenses authorized by this section, the judge shall transmit a copy of the order to the office, which is authorized to pay the funds.
(2) The court may also require the parties to pay all or a portion of the expenses, depending on the ability of the parties to pay.
(f) The office shall establish guidelines to provide a maximum amount of expenses and fees per hour and per case that will be paid pursuant to this section.
(g) In order to ensure that each judicial district will have an appropriate amount of funds to utilize for ad litem representation in custody cases, the funds appropriated shall be apportioned based upon a formula developed by the office, promulgated by rule, and approved by the Arkansas Judicial Council and the Legislative Council.
(h)(1) The office shall develop a statistical survey that each attorney who serves as an ad litem shall complete upon the conclusion of the case.
(2) Statistics shall include:
(A) The ages of children served;
(B) Whether the custody issue arises at a divorce or post-divorce stage;
(C) Whether psychological services were ordered; and
(D) Any other relevant information.