When parents get divorced, they must address important issues like parenting time schedules, the allocation of parental responsibilities, and child support. Parents are asked to formalize agreements about child custody and other child-related issues in their parenting plan. However, divorcing parents often struggle to reach agreements on these important matters. In cases such as these, the court may assign a guardian ad litem. Parents may also request a guardian ad litem (GAL) to be assigned to the case. Children cannot always advocate for their own interests. A GAL’s job is to learn the facts of the case and make a recommendation to the judge about the case’s outcome.
A guardian ad litem may be assigned to any case involving children. The GAL’s role is to represent the child’s best interests and provide the judge with first-hand knowledge and insight. Before a GAL can decide what is best for the child, he or she must thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the case. The GAL may visit the parents’ respective homes and take note of any safety concerns. He or she may observe the child interacting with each parent and other family members look for signs of child abuse or neglect. The GAL may also conduct interviews with the child, the parents, teachers, daycare workers, and other individuals involved in the child’s life. School reports, medical records, police reports, and other records may also act as evidence in the GAL’s investigation.
Once the GAL has learned the facts of the case and gathered enough information to make an informed recommendation, he or she will write a report detailing his or her findings and opinion regarding the case’s outcome. The judge is not required to follow the GAL’s recommendation, but the GAL’s report will almost certainly play a crucial role in the judge’s decision.
If a GAL is assigned to your case, do not panic. Having a GAL involved in your dispute does not mean that you are being accused of anything. It means that the judge wants more information about the case so he or she can make the most informed decision possible. The best thing you can do is cooperate with the GAL’s investigation. Disclose information and documents that the GAL requests. Do not coach your child on what to say and what not to say. Most GALs are experienced enough to know when they are not hearing the truth. Your lawyer can also help you prepare for the GAL’s investigation.
If you are getting divorced and you and your spouse disagree about child-related issues, contact a DuPage County family law attorney from J. Aldrich Law, P.C. for help. Call 630-953-3000 for a free, confidential consultation today.