What is a Guardian ad Litem (GAL)?
Protecting the Best Interests of Children
In cases regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) or parenting time (visitation), the court may appoint a guardian ad litem, or GAL, to determine what outcome would be in the child's best interest. The GAL is a specially-trained attorney serves as an extension of the court and his or her recommendations are treated as expert testimony.
Child-related legal matters are among the most difficult in any area of the law. It is easy for parents to get caught up in the emotional turbulence of the proceedings and lose sight of what is truly best for their child. For this reason, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides the court the option of appointing an attorney to serve as a guardian ad litem, or GAL. At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, we realize that while the GAL must be an attorney, he or she does not represent either parent or the child. Instead, the GAL serves the court as an expert witness with the authority to conduct an investigation into the family's situation.
The Duties of the Guardian ad Litem
The GAL's primary responsibility is to prepare a recommendation for the court regarding the outcome that best meets the needs of the child in question. To do so, the GAL will generally interview the child, both parents, siblings, and any other relevant person to gather as much information as possible. He or she will also review financial documents, court records, and other data that may be useful in preparing his or her report. Once the GAL has determined how the child's interests would be best served, he or she presents the recommendations as expert testimony to the court, subject to cross-examination. Due the nature and impartiality of a GAL, his or her recommendations are afforded significant weight by the court and are often implanted with very few changes.
If a guardian ad litem has been appointed to your parental responsibilities case, or you think that one should be appointed, contact our office. Call 630-665-7300 to schedule a confidential consultation at MKFM Law today. We are proud to serve clients in Wheaton, Naperville, Warrenville, and the rest of DuPage County.