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When Should I Ask for a Guardian Ad Litem in My Child Custody Case?

Posted on in Divorce

Oak Forest family law attorney guardian ad litemA Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a legally appointed attorney who is assigned by a judge in child custody cases at the request of one parent or the other (or their attorney). The GAL is supposed to act as the legal representative of the child or children. They are in a position to spend time interviewing the parents, children, and other parties involved in the case, and they will then report directly back to the judge.

Should I Request a GAL?

While you may feel that your children will be better off with a GAL involved in your case, you must understand that the GAL is not supposed to act as an advocate for either parent, and they will focus instead on the children’s needs. They are tasked with legally determining the best interests of the child. Even though you and the GAL both have your child’s best interests at heart, there may be many negatives to involving a GAL in your case.

If you are financially unstable, for example, a GAL may see that as a sign that you may have trouble providing for your children. If you report concerns to him or her that are unfounded, then the GAL may see you as overly emotional and/or acting out of anger rather than out of care for your children. The GAL may be focused on pursuing specific information that he or she knows the judge will want to know, rather than listening to the issues that you feel are important.

How Should I Deal With a GAL if One Has Been Appointed?

It will be beneficial to sit down with your attorney and discuss what topics you should and should not discuss with the GAL and how you should behave during your interactions with them. You must remember to be respectful at all times, and it is typically best to follow his or her lead in the investigation. 

Even if you feel the GAL is showing bias in his or her assessments, voicing those concerns will most likely not gain you any advantage. The GAL is likely to take offense at such an allegation, as may the judge who appointed the GAL. GALs often are appointed by a judge because they have worked together in the past, and the judge trusts that a particular GAL will give them the facts he or she is looking for. This means that by insulting the GAL, you are indirectly insulting the judge.

You should always do your best to comply with the GAL’s instructions and provide him or her with any information requested. Do not bombard the GAL with character witnesses, but if you have relevant parties who may help your case, such as teachers, doctors, counselors, etc., then provide those names and contact information for the GAL to use at his or her discretion. Be sure that your friends and family members do not contact the GAL on your behalf without being invited to do so.

Remain positive, and let the GAL know that you have your children’s best interests at heart rather than trying to demean the other parent. Show that you are doing your part as a parent and provider, and allow the GAL to do his or her job. Negative behavior toward the GAL will only harm your case.

Contact an Experienced Orland Park Family Law Attorney

Anderson & Associates, P.C. offers a staff of experienced family law attorneys who can help you decide whether a GAL is right for your case or help you deal successfully with one that has already been appointed. Contact a knowledgeable Tinley Park child custody lawyer to learn more about the legal services we can provide. Call 708-226-9904 to set up a free initial consultation. 



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