December 22, 2016

Appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem in a Family Law Case

Child Custody

The phrase, “in the best interests of a child” is a common but important phrase when it comes to protecting the youngest members of society. There are many situations where children need to be shielded from sensitive situations but their rights must be paramount. Certain legal situations such as a divorce, ensuing custody battles, criminal proceedings or other matters involving general welfare would require a child’s interest be considered.

In certain cases, a guardian ad litem is appointed to oversee the child’s functionality and protection for the duration of the legal proceeding. This can be court appointed or can be petitioned for, and is allowed for by law in Illinois. Using a family law attorney is a key step in knowing how to work hand in hand with this representative of the court, to strive for the best possible resolution.

Reasons for a Guardian ad Litem

If a child is a minor or is a dependent, they have a right to continued protection in legal matters that affect them. If the judge in a family matter decides to appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL), to be the court’s eyes and ears, the purpose is to try to understand the child’s feelings and position on the case pending, in order to make a determination taking those opinions into account.

Some areas where a GAL may be appointed might include these matters before the court:

  • Paternity of a child;
  • Separation of parents;
  • Divorce;
  • Visitation arrangements;
  • Custody;
  • Educational interests;
  • Property interests; and
  • General welfare of a child.

Who typically serves as a GAL? Usually someone trained and with sound experience working with children. This could be a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or attorney. They are considered to be an agent of the court and are used to evaluate and report what would best meet the needs of the child in question. This includes conducting interviews with both the parents and the child involved in the case, understanding from third parties (friends, neighbors, schools) and extended family members the child’s current situation. It can also include consulting with other professionals and reviewing relevant documentation, all to piece together a picture of what would best serve the child’s needs going forward.

Compassionate Attorney

If you become involved in a family law case where a GAL has been appointed, it is very important that your own attorney knows how to work with them. The caring attorneys at Mulyk Laho Law, LLC, know this process well. Our DuPage County family law attorneys know the legal significance a GAL plays in a family law case. Serving the interests of a minor child, must not be overlooked in a cased which could be fiercely fought between family members. Coming to a fair and just solution is the result we seek for our clients