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What Is a Guardian ad Litem?

Posted on in Family Law

guardian ad litem, Naperville family law attorneyChild custody and parenting time are issues that often lead to conflict in divorce cases. These difficult-to-resolve issues can lead to lengthy litigation and increased hostility between the parties. Finding a resolution that is in the best interest of the children involved is the top priority, but this can be challenging, as often times one or both parents are not entirely forthcoming about their home life. In such cases, the thoughts and opinions of the children involved may be needed. The family’s children can share any details, good or bad, that can help the judge determine the best possible outcome for them. Putting a child on a stand in a courtroom, however, or in an interview with a judge, can be risky, as divorce alone is challenging for children. No child should ever be made to choose one parent over the other or feel intimidated. Fortunately, working with a Guardian ad Litem, a trained specialist who provides insight to the court, is a much less intimidating option to ensure the child’s best interests are being met.

Who Is a Guardian ad Litem?

In delicate cases involving children, a judge may appoint a guardian ad litem to be the court's eyes and ears. A guardian ad litem (GAL) is a trained professional attorney, and commonly a family lawyer, whose job is to investigate a case and provide feedback to help the court. To be a GAL, the Supreme Court requires 10 hours of specialized training, and that further continuing education requirements be met annually. They are specially trained to interview children, parents, and others, as well as collect information, all in hopes of finding a solution to fit the child’s needs.

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?

A GAL may be given specific tasks by the court, or may be assigned a case to do an overall investigation. Common court assigned tasks include determining visitation hours best suited for the children, helping establishing parenting time schedules, and determining custody situations for after the divorce. A GAL will consult with the child’s parents, as well as the child, in a manner that fits the child’s age and maturity level. Other individuals may be consulted also, such as teachers, counselors, doctors, and any other professional that has played a role in the child’s life. GALs often gather documents that may be helpful including doctor’s notes, correspondence between parents, report cards, and more.

Once a GAL has finished investigating their assigned case, they will provide a report to the court detailing their recommendation. While the court is not required to base their decision off of the opinion provided by the assigned GAL, they often do, as the GAL is a neutral party solely looking to protect the best interest of the children involved.

Reliable Divorce Help

The team at Pesce Law Group, P.C., is available to assist you with any divorce related matters today. Attorney Don Pesce is a fully qualified guardian ad litem who advocates vigorously for his clients, no matter their age. Call 630-352-2240 today to learn more about the services we provide, and to speak with a qualified Naperville divorce attorney immediately.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=075000050K506

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