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Representation of a Child: Cooperating With a Guardian ad Litem

Posted on in Family Law

DuPage County family law attorneysWhen you are involved in a particularly difficult child-related legal matter, including the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, adoption, and many others, the court may decide to appoint an attorney to provide very specific assistance. Such an attorney may serve in one of three capacities under Illinois law: as an attorney for the child, a child representative, or a guardian ad litem. The two most common appointments are the child representative and the guardian ad litem. A future post will look more closely at the role of child representative, but if a guardian ad litem is appointed to your case, your cooperation or lack thereof could impact the court’s ultimate decision.

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?

A guardian ad litem, or GAL, may only be selected from a list of properly trained and certified attorneys. The GAL does not represent the interests of any party in the case. Instead, he or she works on behalf of the court to identify and promote the best interests of the child in question. Despite his or her training and license to practice law, his or her role is more akin to that of an expert witness hired by the court. (The costs of a GAL may be divided between the parties as the court sees fit.)

Identifying the outcome that would best serve the child’s needs requires the GAL to carefully investigate the child’s circumstances, and the law gives a GAL the necessary power to do so. A GAL’s investigation typically includes interviews with both parents, the child, and any other relevant party, as well as the examination of financial documents, police reports, and court transcripts as appropriate. The GAL’s training allows him or her to develop a proposal regarding the outcome of the case that will be under serious consideration by the court.

Cooperation is Crucial

You may believe that the appointed guardian ad litem is wasting your time and that his or her appointment was unnecessary. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the decision is not up to you. If the court appoints a GAL, it is in your best interest to fully cooperate with his or her investigation. Intentionally making the GAL’s job harder will reflect very poorly on you and could result in a recommendation in favor of the other party. Be forthcoming with your answers to the GAL’s questions and produce all requested documents in a timely manner. Even if you think total honesty may hurt your case, deception and avoidance are ill-advised and would not be looked upon favorably by the court.

Get Help Today

If a guardian ad litem has been appointed to your case and you are unsure of how to proceed, contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney. The team at Pesce Law Group, P.C. will review your situation and help you understand your available options. Call 630-352-2240 for a free consultation at any one of our four convenient office locations.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=0

https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/working-guardian-ad-litem-lawyer-manual

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