A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an attorney appointed by the court in a case involving children such as a divorce or child custody dispute. The GAL’s role is to investigate the circumstances of the dispute and determine what he or she believes to be the child’s best interests.. A judge’s decision to assign a GAL depends on numerous factors. Often, a GAL is appointed when the judge wants further information and professional insight in a case. Either party in a child custody case or divorce may request a GAL.
A GAL is often assigned in contested cases involving allocation of parenting time and responsibility. The GAL conducts their own investigation into what is going on with a child, interviewing parents, children, and possibly third parties.
A GAL’s Role in a Child-Related Case
It is important to note that while GAL stands for Guardian Ad Litem, the GAL will not be a guardian. Guardians have legal authority over minors or wards, but GALs do not.
GALs can make recommendations to judges and help judges decide what decisions are in the best interests of the ward. GALs may be called as witnesses and make recommendations to the judge. GALs may interview children and parents, siblings, family members, teachers, child care workers, and other important people in a child’s life. They may review report cards, medical records, police reports, and other documentation. Sometimes a GAL visits the child’s home to ensure that it is a safe environment. All of this information is used to help the GAL make an informed recommendation to the court.
Parties in a child-related dispute must be on their best behavior when dealing with GALs, because they always want to demonstrate that every action they are taking is in the best interests of a child.
If a GAL has been assigned to your case, make sure that you treat the GAL with respect and comply with any requests. It can feel uncomfortable to have someone investigating you and evaluating your home, but keep in mind that the GAL’s role is to ensure that the outcome of the case is in the child’s best interests.
Contact Our Cook County Family Law Attorney
If you are in the midst of trying to figure out how to handle any kind of GAL or child representative issue in Illinois, do not try to figure everything out on your own. Make sure you take the time to speak with a Chicago family law attorney at [[title]].
Our firm has more than three decades of legal experience. You can call [[phone]] or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.