It is not uncommon for disputes regarding parenting time and parental responsibilities to become quite contentious. Emotions are running high and what is best for the child can become lost in the shuffle. The courts understand this and have designed a process to help ensure that children’s best interests are always the top priority. Guardians ad litem (GALs) play an important role in these types of cases.
A “Guardian ad Litem” is a person, usually an attorney, who is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a minor child or children in such disputes. The Guardian ad Litem will investigate both parents’ side of the story and make recommendations to the court as to what they believe is in the child’s best interests.
When is a Guardian ad Litem Assigned to a Case?
There are no hard and fast rules as to when a GAL will be assigned to a case. Generally, however, it will happen when the court feels that it would be helpful to have an objective third party involved. This is especially true if there are allegations of abuse or neglect. The court may also appoint a GAL if the parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own regarding child custody issues. Either parent may also request that a GAL is assigned to a child custody dispute or divorce case.
What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?
The GAL is responsible for ensuring that the child’s best interests are represented throughout the legal process. To do this, the GAL will:
Investigate both sides of the story. This includes talking to the parents, teachers, doctors, and anyone else who may have information relevant to the case, as well as:
Review any relevant medical or school records.
Attend court hearings and mediations.
Read any relevant documents, such as the Illinois Parenting Plan.
Make recommendations to the court as to what they believe is in the child’s best interests.
The GAL is not an advocate for either parent and should not take sides. Rather, the GAL’s job is to make sure that the child’s voice is heard and that their best interests are represented in court.
It is important to note that the GAL’s recommendations are not binding on the court. The court will consider the GAL’s recommendations, along with all of the other evidence in the case, when making a decision about the unresolved issues. However, the GAL’s opinion will likely carry a great deal of weight with the court.
Contact a Kane County Child Custody Lawyer
At Goostree Law Group, our Kane County divorce attorneys have extensive experience handling child custody disputes. We understand the importance of protecting your child’s best interests and will work tirelessly to pursue a favorable outcome in your case. To schedule a free consultation, call us at [[phone]] or contact us online.