What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do - Wisconsin Family Law Attorney

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people going through a divorce in Milwaukee, you’ve heard the term guardian ad litem—but what does it mean, and how does it affect your case?

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem, or GAL, is a lawyer who’s licensed in Wisconsin whose sole responsibility is to protect a minor child’s best interests. The guardian ad litem can investigate facts, participate in negotiations, and offer a position to the court about a child’s legal custody and physical placement.

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?

A guardian ad litem investigates the facts of a case, but more specifically, he or she will speak to both parents and the child or children involved in the dispute.

As the GAL is investigating, he or she will consider:

  • The child’s wishes and both parents’ wishes
  • Whether one or both parents have had a pattern or a serious incidence of violence between them
  • The child’s safety and well-being
  • The child’s relationship with you and other family members
  • How well-adjusted the child is to home, school, religion and community
  • The child’s age and needs
  • Physical abuse or problems with alcohol or drugs
  • Any other significant factors that affect a child’s well-being

This isn’t a comprehensive list. A guardian ad litem’s responsibility is to help the court determine what’s best for your child, so he or she can consider a number of other factors that will affect the child.

Who Appoints a Guardian ad Litem?

A family court commissioner or a judge appoints a guardian ad litem. Typically, one of the parents request a GAL; however, sometimes (as mentioned above) an involved attorney can request one.

The court can appoint a guardian ad litem for a minor child in any action if:

  • Legal custody or physical placement is contested
  • Legal custody or physical placement is stipulated to be with anyone other than a parent, or when a child is in the legal custody of anyone (or any agency) other than the child’s parent
  • An involved attorney requests one on behalf of a minor whose paternity has not been acknowledged

Do You Have Questions About GALs in Wisconsin?

We’ll be more than happy to answer your questions about guardian ad litem services in Wisconsin. Our attorneys are certified and licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin, and we have completed specialized training related to the areas of law that guardians ad litem are often necessary for, including divorce, juvenile and paternity cases in which custody or placement is an issue.

Call us at 414-383-6700 or get in touch with us online today.

Carlos Gamino