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FAQs Regarding the Guardian ad Litem

Posted on in Child Custody

Naperville family law attorneyWhen parents get divorced or unmarried parents have a child together, there are often disagreements regarding issues of child custody and visitation. In Illinois, child custody is called the “allocation of parental responsibilities” and visitation is called “parenting time.” If you and your former spouse or partner have disputes about parenting time or parental responsibilities, you may require court intervention to help solve these problems. Illinois family court judges sometimes appoint a specially-trained attorney to help when parents have disputes regarding children. Typically, the attorney serves in one of three roles: child representative, attorney for the child, or guardian ad litem. Read on to learn more about the most common of these specially-trained attorneys, a guardian ad litem.

What Is the Purpose of a Guardian ad Litem?

Courts generally appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the interests of a child, infant, unborn child, or other person who cannot advocate for themselves. The job of a GAL in a child custody case is to protect the legal rights of the child or children involved in the dispute. He or she will investigate the lives of each parent and anyone else relevant to the case. This may include interviewing parents and other parties, as well as visiting the child’s home and school and reviewing relevant documents. The GAL will then use this information to make a recommendation to the court about what he or she thinks is the best course of action moving forward.

Does the Court Have to Follow the Guardian ad Litem’s Recommendation?

Not just anyone can be appointed to act as guardian ad litem in a child custody case. An attorney acting as a GAL must have special training and education. Because of this, the information presented by the GAL is considered expert witness testimony. Although the court is not required to follow the recommendation presented by the GAL, this recommendation carries significant weight. Each party will have an opportunity to cross-examine the GAL about his or her findings in court.

When is it Appropriate to Request a GAL?

A guardian ad litem can be appointed by a judge based on his or her own judgment, or a GAL can be appointed at the request of either party. GALs are generally not needed when parents are able to be forthcoming with information and cooperate with one another. GALs may be necessary, however, when parents have a history of being dishonest or contentious. GALs are also often used when a family has a history of domestic violence.

Contact a Naperville Family Lawyer

For help with issues related to divorce, parental responsibility, parenting time, and more, contact a Wheaton, Illinois family law attorney. Call 630-352-2240 to set up a free, confidential consultation at Pesce Law Group, P.C. to discuss your case.

 

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59

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