It not uncommon for child-related legal matters such as the allocation of parental responsibilities or a proposed relocation to become highly contentious. In some cases, the involved parties may find it difficult or impossible to reach an agreement that is in the child’s best interests. When parents are unable to negotiate a reasonable solution on their own or through court-ordered mediation, the court must step in and make a decision. To do so, the court must have a full understanding of the circumstances surrounding the dispute, which is not always possible to obtain from the parents in a courtroom setting. Illinois law, however, gives the court the authority to appoint a specially-trained attorney called a guardian ad litem (GAL) to conduct an investigation and make recommendations regarding the outcome of the case.
The Role of a Guardian ad Litem
When a guardian ad litem is appointed to your case, he or she does not represent you, the other parent, your child, or any other party to the case. Instead, the GAL works essentially on behalf of the court, gathering all of the relevant details about your situation. The GAL has the power to conduct a comprehensive investigation into your family’s current circumstances as well as the willingness and ability of each party to provide for the child. In most cases, a GAL will interview the child, both parents, and any other person whose input may be helpful. He or she will also visit each parent’s home and review financial records, court transcripts, and other documents that support each party’s claims or requests.
Once the GAL has compiled all of the relevant information, he or she will use it to develop a recommended outcome that, in his or her trained opinion, best promotes the child’s well-being. The courts often take GAL’s recommendation very seriously since the GAL is typically in the best position to make neutral observations.
Asking for a GAL
While the court always has the authority to appoint a guardian ad litem on its own, either or both parties may also request that one be appointed. It may be a good idea to ask for a GAL if you believe that the other parent is being unreasonable or deceptive. If domestic abuse has been an issue in the past, asking for a guardian ad litem may be appropriate as well.
Before filing a motion to request a GAL, it is important to discuss all of your available options with an experienced Kane County family law attorney. We will review your case and help you make the best decisions for yourself and your children. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.