What Role Does a Guardian Ad Litem Play in Illinois Custody Disputes?
Child-related disputes during divorce can be particularly difficult to handle. If you and your spouse are struggling to reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, you may have questions about how these issues will be resolved. In any child-related legal proceeding, reaching a resolution that is in the child’s best interests is the top priority. In order to make fully informed decisions, Illinois courts sometimes utilize the expertise of a guardian ad litem.
Helping Children Have a Voice
A guardian ad litem (GAL) is a specially trained attorney who represents the child’s best interests. He or she acts as an “expert witness” during legal proceedings such as guardianship and child custody cases. A GAL will investigate the circumstances of the case and then make a recommendation to the court about what he or she thinks is best for the child. This investigation often involves a “home study” during which the GAL will visit the child’s home and evaluate his or her living situation. The GAL typically interviews the child or children involved in the dispute as well as the parents. Teachers, childcare workers, doctors, psychologists, social workers, and other adults involved in the child’s life may also be interviewed.
When Is a GAL Assigned to a Child Custody Case?
GALs are not always appointed to child custody disputes or divorce cases involving children. Often, a judge assigns a GAL to a case because he or she is concerned that the parents are not able to represent the child’s best interests. A GAL may also be appointed by a judge who wishes to gain additional insight from an expert witness with family law experience. Parents may also request that a guardian ad litem be assigned to their case. You may wish to request a GAL if the other parent is seeking a custody arrangement that is unreasonable or may be harmful to the child. It is important to remember, however, that the GAL may make a recommendation with which you do not agree. Courts are not required to follow the GALs recommendation, but the recommendation will carry significant weight during any child custody determination.
Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer
If you are a parent who is going through a divorce or soon will be, you probably have concerns about how the divorce will affect your relationship with your children. For dependable legal support regarding parental responsibilities, parenting time, and much more, contact the accomplished legal team at MKFM Law. Our skilled Wheaton, IL child custody attorneys understand the importance of protecting your parental rights while considering your child’s best interests. Call our office today at 630-665-7300 to schedule a confidential consultation.