During your divorce, you and your ex are both looking out for your kids’ best interests. However, sometimes the court finds it necessary to appoint someone else—someone who’s paid to advocate for the children’s best interests when it comes to guardianship or protective placement.
In Wisconsin, we call this person a guardian ad litem.
Guardian ad Litem Criteria in Wisconsin
The guardian ad litem will be a lawyer appointed by the court to look out for a child. The lawyer can’t be a party to the dispute, nor can he or she be related to or representative of either party.
How Guardians ad Litem Look Out for Wisconsin Kids
The guardian ad litem, commonly referred to as a GAL, has one main duty: to represent the child’s best interests. The GAL isn’t the child’s lawyer, but the court appoints him or her to speak up about what will best serve the child or children involved.
The guardian ad litem has several responsibilities, including:
- Interviewing the child and the proposed guardian
- Determining whether there has been abuse or violence between parents
- Making recommendations to the court about whether the proposed guardian is fit to fill the role
- Requesting medical or psychological evaluations (or other evaluations)
- Informing the court about the child’s objections and attending all court proceedings
- Presenting evidence that proves what’s in the child’s best interests
The GAL must consider what the child and both parents want (although those wishes may not be in the child’s best interests), whether the child is safe in either environment, and the level of connection and interaction between each parent and the child. He or she will also consider several other factors that affect the child’s well-being.
Should Your Kids Have a Guardian ad Litem During Your Divorce?
Some families request a guardian ad litem; in those cases, a family court judge or commissioner makes the appointment. If you’re going through a divorce, your lawyer will be able to ask on your behalf.
It’s not always necessary to have a GAL participate in your divorce. If you’re not sure, ask your Milwaukee divorce lawyer. He or she will be able to tell you whether it might be a good idea to make that type of request.