A guardian ad litem is a person who has been appointed by the court to watch out for a child’s rights. In many cases, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem during divorce to preserve the minor’s rights.
Does My Child Need a Guardian ad Litem?
While the courts are responsible for appointing a guardian ad litem, either parent can request one. If you feel that your child’s rights are at risk, you can ask the judge in your case to appoint a GAL.
The courts will appoint a GAL, with or without a parental request, if:
- The parents cannot agree on custody or placement, even after mediation (in some cases, the courts may waive the mediation requirement and skip straight to appointing a GAL)
- The courts are concerned for the child’s welfare
- Any time the child’s best interests are at risk
If you would like to request a guardian ad litem, you need to understand that:
- The GAL is not the child’s lawyer. Instead, he or she is responsible for acting in the child’s best interests – and those aren’t always the same as what the child wants.
- The GAL may negotiate settlements, hire experts and interview witnesses when he or she is representing the child’s best interests.
- The GAL can investigate abuse allegations and allegations of violence between the parents.
- In most cases, the GAL will meet with each parent and the child. Usually, parent meetings take place in the GAL’s office; child meetings could take place in another location.
- The judge decides who pays the GAL’s fees.
A guardian ad litem is an attorney, and he or she only investigates facts that are related to your case. A lot of the information that he or she gathers is gained through interviews and records (such as medical records and school records).
Once the GAL has completed an investigation, he or she will present the judge with the findings. If the parents cannot agree with what the GAL recommends, a judge will have to decide.