Court Visitor Volunteers
The Court Wants You
Volunteers are needed to serve as court visitors: to observe and report about the circumstances of incapacitated adults. Adults have the right to make decisions about their lives. An adult who loses the capacity to make decisions may need the special protection of a guardian. The judge sometimes needs a visitor to gather evidence to help the judge:
- Decide whether the protected person may be excused from court hearings.
- Decide the nature and extent of the protected person's incapacity.
- Decide the nature and extent of the guardian's authority.
- Ensure that the court's orders are being followed.
The judge may appoint a visitor to inquire about and observe a protected person's circumstances to provide a more complete and nuanced picture of that person's life.
The court visitor volunteer program operates in the Second Judicial District (Davis, Morgan and Weber counties), Third Judicial District (Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties), Fourth Judicial District (Utah, Wasatch, Juab and Millard counties), and the Seventh Judicial District (Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties) and may someday expand to the whole state.
What is a Guardian?
A guardian is a person who, by court appointment, has the authority to make decisions on behalf of a protected person. A protected person is someone who lacks capacity to make or communicate decisions, who needs protection, and for whom there is no less restrictive alternative than a guardianship. A guardian is a position of high trust, with responsibilities for the protected person and duties to the court.
If the protected person needs help in some but not all areas of decision making, the court may order a limited guardianship. The court may grant a full guardianship only if no alternative exists. For more information, see our page on Guardianships.
What is the Role of the Visitor?
The court visitor's role is to observe and to report facts. The visitor may assist the guardian, the protected person and others by providing information, but the visitor is not an advocate. Others in the process are advocates; the visitor is a gatherer and a provider of information.
What is Expected of Volunteers?
Volunteers must be 18 or older and come from all walks of life and with a variety of professional, educational, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. No special experience is required. Volunteers are selected on the basis of their maturity, competence and commitment.
Volunteers are requested to commit to serve for at least one year. When appointed by the court, volunteers are expected to contribute about 8-10 hours per month. Schedules are flexible, but there will sometimes be deadlines that must be met. A visitor who files a report with the court may be called to testify about that report. Students who volunteer as part of course work must also satisfy any minimum course requirements.
The court visitor volunteer program recruits volunteers to serve in a variety of roles, broadly known as court visitors. A volunteer may select from one or more of the following:
The interviewer interviews protected persons and others who are important in that person's life and observes the care of the protected person in their residential environment. Most of the visitor's work is in the homes of the people being interviewed.
The auditor, a visitor with accounting skills, may be appointed to ensure that the guardian timely files required reports and to review reports and other records for indications of abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and other problems. Most of the visitor's work is in the courthouse.
The tracker, a visitor with forensic skills, may be appointed to find guardians with whom the court has lost contact. The visitor's work environment varies depending on the nature of the research: visiting social media websites; contacting friends, family and colleagues; and researching bank, medical or other records that might show the guardian's whereabouts.
The teacher, a visitor with teaching skills, may train other visitors, guardians and the public. Most of the visitor's work is in a classroom setting, usually in a public building like a library.
What are the Benefits?
A volunteer court visitor improves the lives of incapacitated adults in our community, providing information on which the judge can base decisions, teaching guardians to perform their duties with integrity, and protecting incapacitated adults from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Volunteers are not paid for their time, but they are reimbursed for their travel.
The Utah courts value your important contributions. Thank you.
How to Volunteer
To volunteer a person must complete an application form. A qualified candidate will be interviewed for more details about his or her qualifications and the special roles selected.
Because of the sensitive nature of the visitor's service, a background check will be conducted on volunteers not screened out by the interview. The volunteer will be fingerprinted and asked for their date of birth, social security number and driver license number, which will be private records.
Once accepted, the volunteer will participate in general training and additional training in each of the special roles selected by that volunteer.
- Application Form - PDF
- Court Visitor Program Brochure - PDF
- Court Visitor Program Flyer - PDF
- Volunteer Resources
Court Visitor Volunteer Program
Administrative Office of the Courts
450 South State Street
P.O. Box 140241
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Court Visitor Program Coordinator
Court Visitor Volunteer Coordinator