Volunteering for the Court Visitor Program (CVP)

Why Volunteer as a Court Visitor?

"Volunteer programs open wide the doors of the courts to the community. Through volunteer service programs, communities and courts can come together in partnership to improve how courts respond to the needs and interests of the people they serve."

- State Bar of Wisconsin, Court-Related Volunteer Programs in Wisconsin (1997) (quoting Hon. Shirley S. Abrahamson, Chief Justice, Wisconsin Supreme Court)

Every year, Utah District Courts appoint guardians for persons who, due to serious physical or mental disabilities, need help in making decisions about their daily lives. The Court wants to be sure that every person under guardianship receives good care. This is where you can help!

The Court needs volunteers to serve as Court Visitors (CVs) because:

  • Few courts have the resources to oversee guardians to the fullest extent needed; using trained volunteers extends the monitoring capacity of the court.
  • Volunteers provide an objective, effective resource to help address the court's oversight responsibility.
  • Volunteers involve the community in the judicial system, which aids in greater public understanding of the courts.

The Guardianship Reporting and Monitoring Program (GRAMP) accommodates requests for CVs in all eight court districts, so volunteers are needed throughout the state. The service CVs provide is important:

  • CVs provide information on which judges can base decisions
  • CVs teach guardians to perform their duties with integrity
  • CVs help protect incapacitated individuals from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation

What do people say about CVs?

Judges, court staff, attorneys, and the public regularly acknowledge the invaluable contributions CVs make on behalf of the courts. Here are just a few of the many responses received about our CVs:


Expectations for CVs

The role of a Court Visitor is to be a neutral, objective special appointee of the court - one who gathers facts and information from an array of individuals and institutions, and provides this essential information to the judge.
Judges frequently need CVs to investigate, observe, and report on cases, to help the judge determine:

  • whether a respondent may be excused from court hearings;
  • the nature and extent of the respondent's incapacity;
  • the nature and extent of the guardian's authority; and/or
  • whether the court's orders are being followed

The CV can provide the judge with important information and offer a more complete and nuanced picture of the respondent/protected person's life. The CV will determine if the vulnerable individual is receiving appropriate care, ensure the guardian is following court orders, and ensure the incapacitated individual's preferences and wishes are being considered when making life altering decisions.

The Court Visitor Program is not a typical volunteering experience. The Court Visitor's name will be on court orders, and deadlines are critical. Several parties and judges will be relying on the Court Visitor's written, detailed report. Consequently, the Court Visitor Program has high expectations and protective volunteers will need to go through an interview process to makes sure it is a good fit for them and the program.

What would be my commitment?

Because of the importance of the work and the training needed to become proficient, the CVP seeks volunteers who can commit to serve in this capacity for at least one year, and who are willing and able to contribute approximately 8-10 hours a month. However, if you are interested in volunteering but concerned about the time commitment, we can talk with you about your specific situation to see what arrangements can be made.

Young volunteer in retirement house

Additionally, circumstances may arise that necessitate a modification in a CV's availability with the program, such as an extended vacation, family matters, or health concerns. The CVP will work with you to meet your needs, including decreasing assignment frequency, adjusting the types of assignments to allow you to work on less complex cases, or pausing your availability with the CVP for a time. 

Scheduling is generally flexible. For cases where interviews are required, you will be responsible for making these appointments, which should allow you to take into account both your schedule and the availability of others. Other cases may require extensive time spent reviewing records or using a variety of electronic resources to track down guardians. These resources are typically accessible 24/7, allowing work to take place at any time during the day.

However, because CVs work from a signed court order, there are strict deadlines on submitting final reports. CVs must be sure they can put in the time needed to get the assignment and report done by the deadline. Writing reports in a professional, cohesive manner is required. In addition, in some cases, CVs may be asked to attend hearings for the case. These hearings are typically scheduled in advance, giving CVs time to plan their schedule accordingly.

Additional information:

To learn more about how a Court Visitor fits into the guardianship process, review the following chart: Guardianship Process


Am I Qualified?

The CVP benefits from having a wide variety of individuals serving as CVs:

  • Our volunteers come from all walks of life, with a variety of professional, educational, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Some of our CVs are retired professionals, others are just starting their professional career.
  • Some CVs hold a full-time job, separate from their volunteering responsibilities, while others work part-time or spend time in unpaid endeavors.
Portrait of middle aged businesswoman in modern office looking at camera. Confident business woman with arms crossed standing while leaning against glass wall. Proud brunette woman smiling in formalwear with copy space.

The central elements that connect all CVs are a belief in the value of the program, and a desire to give back to the community through participation.
No special experience is required to be a CV; volunteers are selected on the basis of their maturity, competence, and commitment. However, volunteers must meet these basic requirements:

  • 18 years or older
  • Access to a computer, and basic computer skills (some training can be provided, as needed)
  • Ability to keep information confidential
  • Access to reliable transportation
  • Willingness to visit people in their homes, nursing homes, hospitals, and other care facilities
  • Ability to work with a wide variety of individuals, including people with physical and mental impairments from different racial, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds
  • Excellent listening skills, patience, and tact
  • Writing detailed reports in a professional manner
  • Mature judgment and the ability to remain objective in making reports to the Court

The CVP will provide you with the specialized training you need to complete assignments. This training includes general information, such as an introduction to guardianship, communicating with the various individuals associated with guardianship cases, and confidentiality and privacy procedures. In addition, CVs will receive hands-on training on program-specific processes, such as searching the records database, reading and understanding court records, and completing court reports.


Getting Involved

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with the CVP, the following graphic shows the steps to follow to become a CV:

1. Submit Application

Complete and submit the CV Application.

The Program Coordinator will review the information in your application and contact your references.

2. Interview

Qualified candidates will be contacted by the Program Coordinator to set up an interview. The interview allows us to ensure you are able to meet the needs of the program AND that the program is a good fit for your expectations.

3. Background Check

Candidates that pass the interview screening process will undergo a background check. This includes fingerprinting, and providing your date of birth, SSN, and driver's license number.

4. CVP Forms

If there are no concerns with the background check, the Program Coordinator will go over the New Volunteer paperwork with you, including reviewing our Code of Ethics, signing the Visitor Agreement, and obtaining an ID badge.

5. Orientation Training

Once you are officially onboard, your training begins!

We will schedule times to go over CVP procedure, the CV handbook, court procedures, and navigating your way through an assignment.

We will work closely with you as you take on your first assignment, to answer questions, provide direction and advice, and help you get comfortable with your new role.

Cheerful senior woman on a swing at a playground


Forms and Resources

Related Forms

  • CV Application - PDF
  • Becoming a Court Visitor (print version) - PDF
  • Court Visitor Program Brochure - PDF
  • Court Visitor Program Flyer - PDF


Contact Information

Guardianship Reporting and Monitoring Program (GRAMP)

Administrative Office of the Courts
450 South State Street
P.O. Box 140241
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Fax: 801-578-3843
Email: visitor@utcourts.gov

GRAMP Program Coordinator

Shonna Thomas
Email: shonnat@utcourts.gov
Phone: 801-578-3925

Court Visitor Program Coordinators

Main Line: 801-238-7030

Michelle Wilkes - michellew@utcourts.gov
Holly Thorson - hollylt@utcourts.gov