How Will a Guardian Ad Litem Affect My Child Custody Case?
If you are going through a divorce, you will likely come across a variety of procedural rules that you will have to follow and many different legal terms you may not have heard before. One of these terms is “guardian ad litem.” Many divorcing couples do not understand the role of a guardian ad litem (GAL) or why one may be appointed by the court. However, this person can play an important part in decisions about child custody, so you will want to be sure to understand how to proceed if a GAL has been appointed.
What Is a Guardian Ad Litem?
In some divorce cases, matters related to the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time may need to be addressed by the judge. When making decisions about these issues, the judge must take a number of factors into consideration, including the home life of both parents, the financial situation of each parent and ultimately, what is best for the child.
While this information is all very important for a judge to have, he or she will be unable to perform extensive interviews with the parents, the child or other relevant parties, such as teachers, doctors, family members and counselors. To gather the required information, a judge may appoint a guardian ad litem who will investigate the case and report the findings to the judge. The GAL will typically prepare a written report, and each parent’s attorney may cross-examine the GAL in court. The judge is not bound by the recommendations made by the guardian ad litem, but he or she will usually take the report into great consideration when making decisions.
How to Work with a Guardian Ad Litem
The way you interact with the guardian ad litem becomes very important if your divorce involves disputes over child custody or visitation. Since the GAL essentially serves as the eyes and the ears of the court, anything that is said to him or her may be reported back to the judge.
When a guardian ad litem performs an investigation, you may feel that you are under attack. However, a GAL is looking out for the child’s best interests. You should be friendly, open and honest about anything the guardian ad litem asks. A GAL is not looking for perfection. He or she will simply be trying to determine that you care about your children and are focused on their best interests.
While you may feel hostility toward your former partner during divorce, you should not let these emotions affect your children. If the GAL feels that one parent is more interested in punishing the other parent than in protecting the best interests of the child, these observations will likely be included in his or her report to the court. Although tension between you and your ex-spouse may have led to your divorce, these issues should not play a role in your relationship with your children.
Need Help with Your Child Custody Case? Speak to a Barrington Divorce Lawyer
Divorce proceedings can be complex, especially when children are involved. When addressing matters related to parental responsibility and parenting time, you should be sure to understand how Illinois law affects your case and the role a GAL may play in these decisions. Inverness family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson can provide legal help throughout your divorce and help you reach an outcome that protects your parental rights and your children’s best interests. Contact us today at 847.873.6741 for your free consultation.