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When Is a Guardian Ad Litem Assigned to a Family Law Case?

 Posted on March 24, 2021 in Child Custody

Elmhurst child custody attorney for GAL investigationsChildren are not capable of advocating for themselves the way that adults can. Whenever children are involved in a legal dispute, courts are very concerned with how possible resolutions will affect the children’s well-being. Illinois courts make decisions about child custody, adoption, parental rights, and other child-related issues based on what is in the child’s best interests. To determine what is in the child’s best interests, the court may assign a guardian ad litem (GAL).

The Aim of a Guardian Ad Litem

A GAL is often an attorney, but some GALs are social workers or other types of professionals. The GAL’s job is to investigate the case, gather information about the parents’ relationships with their child, and use this information to make a recommendation to the court about what is in the child’s best interests. The court does not have to follow the GAL’s recommendations, but their opinion does carry substantial weight. GALs are neutral third parties who do not choose one person’s side or represent one of the parties in the dispute. The GAL represents the child’s best interests. Either party in the dispute may request a GAL, or a GAL may be assigned to the case if a judge deems it necessary.

When gathering information to form an opinion about the child’s best interests, the guardian ad litem may:

  • Interview the child about his or her home life

  • Ask the child about his or her wishes

  • Interview the parents or other parties and discuss their ability to care for the child

  • Investigate substance abuse concerns

  • Evaluate the parties’ homes and looks for signs of neglect or abuse

  • Interview the child’s siblings, teachers, child care workers, doctors, and other important figures in his or her life

  • Collect important documents including medical records, reports from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), school reports, and criminal records

  • Ask the parties to undergo drug screenings and/or psychological evaluations

Why Has a GAL Been Assigned to My Case?

If a guardian ad litem has been assigned to your case, it is because the judge wants to ensure that the decision he or she makes will not damage the child’s well-being. GALs are typically assigned when a family law dispute is especially contentious or when the judge has concerns that the parties are losing sight of the child’s best interests. If a GAL is assigned to your case, do not be alarmed. Cooperate with the GAL and answer his or her questions truthfully. During your case, you will want to work with a skilled family law attorney so that you have your own legal advocate who can advise you of the best steps to take while advocating for your rights and your child’s best interests during the proceedings.

Contact a Naperville Child Custody Lawyer  

If you are in the midst of a child-related legal dispute, you need a strong legal advocate on your side. Contact a DuPage County family law attorney from Pesce Law Group, P.C. for help. Call 630-352-2240 for a free consultation.


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