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UPDATE: Understanding the Role of the Guardian Ad Litem in Illinois Child Custody Cases

 Posted on November 30, 2021 in Family Law

Naperville guardian ad litem lawyer

Originally published: June 12, 2019 -- Updated: November 30, 2021

UPDATE: If a guardian ad litem has been appointed in your divorce or child custody case, you will not only need to understand the procedures they will follow as described below, but you will need to prepare for how you will work with the GAL to address your children’s needs and best interests. When answering a GAL’s questions or responding to their requests, it is important to do the following:

  • Be honest and cooperative - You will want to answer all of the GAL’s questions honestly while demonstrating that you can provide for your children’s best interests. Be sure to answer the GAL’s phone calls or emails promptly, and work with them to make arrangements for visiting your home and observing you while you are with your children. Your goal will be to demonstrate that you are a good parent who wants what is best for your children.
  • Provide requested information - If the GAL asks you to provide any documents or contact information for people who may have relevant information about your case, be sure to comply with these requests quickly and politely. This may include providing releases that will allow the GAL to speak to a doctor, psychologist, or family therapist about you, your children, or your family relationships.
  • Focus on your children - The GAL’s goal will be to create arrangements that will provide for your children’s best interests. You will want to avoid discussion of conflicts between you and the other parent or other relationship issues unless they have had or will have an effect on your children. Ideally, you will want to show that you can cooperate with the other parent to raise your children and provide for their ongoing needs.

To ensure that you take the best approach when you work with a GAL, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney. At Goostree Law Group, we can provide you with legal representation during your case, advising you on the best ways to answer a GAL’s questions and provide them with the information they need to make the right decisions about your children. For legal help with these and other child custody matters, contact our Wheaton family law attorneys at 630-364-4046 and set up a free consultation today.

Unfortunately, divorces do not often involve much amicability, especially on issues related to children. Divorcing parents may not see eye to eye on what is best for a child of the marriage. This can result in major disagreements that do not have a clear solution.

During a divorce, a child’s best interests can be put on the back burner or forgotten altogether. In order to avoid this, a judge may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to the case to help understand the situation and determine what solutions would be in the child’s best interest.

What is a GAL?

A GAL is an attorney who has been trained and certified to handle child-related issues. A GAL can be appointed in any case that involves child support, child custody, allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, parental relocations or the general welfare of a child. Though the GAL is a licensed attorney, he or she does not act as an attorney for either side. Rather, the GAL’s role is to examine the circumstances of the case and act as an advocate for the child’s best interests.

The GAL’s Process in Custody Cases

  • In order to come to a determination on what actions would be in the child’s best interest, the GAL will have to conduct an investigation into the family’s circumstances. Depending on the issues that need to be settled, the GAL may:
  • Meet and interview each parent;
  • Meet with the child privately;
  • Talk with other individuals, such as psychologists, teachers, relatives and/or doctors; and
  • Visit each parent’s residence.

Once the GAL has completed their investigation, he or she will then compile a report and come up with a plan in the child’s best interests. The report is made available to all parties, and the GAL may be asked to testify. The judge does not have to follow the GAL’s recommendations, though they are usually given weight by the fact finder.

Hire a Wheaton Guardian Ad Litem 

Not only can judges order a GAL to be appointed to a case, but either party can also request that a GAL be assigned. At the Goostree Law Group, we can review your case and discuss how a GAL could be used. Contact our DuPage County experienced guardians ad litems today for more information at 630-364-4046. We offer free consultations. 




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