The Mississippi Court of Appeals decided Carter v. Carter yesterday located here. To my knowledge, this may be the first case to define what neglect is that would require the appointment of a guardian ad litem as opposed to just bad parenting. The Court noted "Neglect is difficult to define and could arguably be present, to some degree, in mundane allegations of imperfect parenting that should not demand investigation by a guardian ad litem."
The trial court went on and inferred that whether a child is neglected should be evaluated as defined in the Youth Court Act. The Youth Court Act defines a neglected child as one:
(i) Whose parent, guardian or custodian or any person responsible for his care or support, neglects or refuses, when able so to do, to provide for him proper and necessary care or support, or education as required by law, or medical, surgical, or other care necessary for his well-being; however, a parent who withholds medical treatment from any child who in good faith is under treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall not, for that reason alone, be considered to be neglectful under any provision of this chapter; or
(ii) Who is otherwise without proper care, custody, supervision or support;
(iii) Who, for any reason, lacks the special care made necessary for him by reason of his mental condition, whether the mental condition is having mental illness or having an intellectual disability; or
(iv) who, for any reason, lacks the care necessary for his health, morals or well-being.
Miss. Code Ann. § 43-21-105(l) (Supp. 2014).