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What to Expect if a Guardian ad Litem Has Been Appointed in Your Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

Naperville family law attorney guardian ad litem

Not every divorce is amicable, and some are highly contentious. In certain situations, parents may be unable to reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, and these matters may be left up to a judge to decide. In these cases, a guardian ad litem, also known as a “GAL,” may be appointed by the court. A GAL serves as an attorney who represents the children, ensuring that their best interests will be protected. In a sense, they act as the “eyes and ears” of the courtroom. It is important to understand the legal role a GAL plays and how they may affect your case. 

A Guardian ad Litem’s Duties

Because a GAL’s job is to represent a child’s best interests, they are carefully vetted. To become a GAL, a person must complete extensive education, including training on how to recognize signs of abuse and/or neglect. 

When a GAL is appointed, they will thoroughly investigate the facts of the case and interview the parents, children, and other family members. They may also speak to other people involved in the children's lives, such as doctors, therapists, or teachers, and they may visit each parent's home to ensure that they can provide accommodations for children. Following the investigation, the GAL will submit a report to the court with recommendations for how child-related matters should be resolved in a way that protects the child’s best interests. The GAL may also be called as a witness, and the parties' attorneys may cross-examine the GAL in regards to their reports and recommendations.

Tips for Working With a Guardian ad Litem

If a GAL has been appointed in your divorce case, you will want to be sure to take the right approach when working with them. Here are a few tips to help the process go more smoothly:

  • Communication and cooperation are crucial. You will be working with the Guardian ad Litem for the duration of your case, so it is important to have your relationship start off on the right foot. Informing the GAL about your concerns and answering any questions they have will help your case in the long run.
  • Although the GAL is not the judge of the case and does not have the final say, they do have a large amount of influence on how it will play out. Listen to the GAL’s advice and recommendations; they have knowledge and experience in these types of family law matters.
  • The GAL will need multiple documents and informational records. Providing them with educational records, medical records, pay stubs, counseling/therapy records, criminal records, and court case documents that involve you or anyone in your immediate household will help them have the information they need to assess your case.
  • Be readily available. If your GAL requests information or documents, be sure to answer them in a timely fashion. However, you also need to be patient during the legal process. Allowing the GAL to gather the information they need while demonstrating that you want what is best for your children will only benefit you in the end.

Remember, your court-appointed Guardian ad Litem is there to help determine how to protect your children's health, safety, and well-being. You are allowed to ask questions throughout the entire process, and if you have any concerns about working with a GAL, you should consult with your attorney to determine the best ways to respond to inquiries, provide information, and demonstrate your willingness to put your children's needs first.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

A divorce can become complicated when children are involved. If a Guardian ad Litem has been appointed to your case, The Law Office of Christina Martell can assist you in responding to their requests and help you determine the best approach to take as you work to resolve matters related to custody of your children. Contact our compassionate and qualified West Chicago family law attorney today at 630-717-2772. The cost of your initial consultation is $100, and this amount will be credited toward your account upon hiring our firm.


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