What Should I Do if a Guardian Ad Litem Is Appointed in My Divorce?

Posted on in Child Custody and Visitation

divorced dad law guardian ad litemDivorce cases can become complicated quickly, especially when children are involved. While some divorcing parents are able to work together to reach agreements on how they will handle child custody, others may find it difficult or impossible to cooperate, requiring them to settle these matters in court. When family court judges are asked to make decisions about child-related issues, they may feel that they do not have enough information to determine what is best for the children, and they may appoint a guardian ad litem to assist in this area. A guardian ad litem may also be appointed at the request of either parent.

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem, or GAL, is usually an attorney who has received training in child-related issues. The GAL will act as a representative for the child or children, and their goal is to determine how to resolve child custody issues in a way that will provide for the children’s best interests. After being appointed, the GAL will perform an investigation, which may include meeting with the individual parents, interviewing the children, visiting the parents’ homes, observing the parents while they are caring for their children, and speaking to other people who may have insight into the case, such as teachers, doctors, therapists, daycare providers, or extended family members.

In some cases, a GAL may work with the parents to help them reach agreements about child custody matters, while in others, they may provide a report to the judge that offers recommendations about how these issues should be handled. These recommendations will be based on what the GAL believes is in the children’s best interests, and while the GAL will consider the children’s wishes, they will also weigh other factors involved in the case. If a trial will be needed in the divorce or child custody case, the GAL may be called as a witness and asked questions by both parties’ attorneys.

Dealing With a GAL’s Investigation

If a GAL has been appointed in your case, you'll want to be sure to respond to them the right way. You should always be honest with them and answer their questions about how you can provide for your children’s needs. Since the GAL will be focused on what is in your children’s best interests, you won’t want to discuss other divorce-related issues with them or complain about your ex, but you may raise any concerns you may have about your ex’s behavior around your children, including safety issues related to mental health or substance abuse.

If the GAL will be visiting your home, you’ll want to make sure it is clean and that you have the space and accommodations to meet your children’s needs. In some cases, a GAL may drop by unannounced, so you should be prepared for this possibility and make sure you are maintaining a safe home. Throughout the course of the investigation, you’ll want to demonstrate that you have been closely involved in your kids’ lives and plan to continue to be involved, while also showing that you have the capability to take care of your kids and the willingness to cooperate with your ex as you raise your children together.

Contact a Family Law Attorney

During your case, you’ll want to work with an experienced divorce lawyer who can make sure you understand your rights while advising you of the strategies that will help you achieve your goals. If a guardian ad litem has been appointed, your attorney can help you determine the best ways to respond to their requests and the steps you can take to show that you are a loving, committed father who will be able to provide for your children’s best interests in the years to come.



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