The Role of the Guardian Ad Litem in Your Child Custody Case

As a parent going through a divorce, it’s easy at times to feel like you’re being pulled in all kinds of chaotic directions. There’s a lot at stake, so you feel pressure to win your case. You’re probably not getting along very well with your spouse. Perhaps you’re fighting and arguing a lot.

In all this chaos, it’s easy to understand how sometimes a parent can forget about the effect all this is having on their children. No parent wants to see their child suffer or have their needs ignored. When you’re in the middle of a court case, and you need to win, keeping a clear mind and open eyes to the children might be more difficult than you think.

A Guardian Ad Litem Is Your Child’s Voice

That’s where a guardian ad litem (GAL) comes in. Simply put, a guardian ad litem is a representative of the court whose primary responsibility is to look out for a child’s best interests and report back to the court. In other words, your child doesn’t have an attorney to speak for them during the divorce proceedings; a guardian ad litem is the next best thing.

The guardian ad litem can be an attorney, or even a qualified mental health professional. They are appointed by the judge specifically to give feedback about anything relating to the child. That could mean custody, visitation scheduling, or parenting feedback. The guardian ad litem is neutral; they are not on either side in a divorce proceeding but are there to serve as the voice of the child and give neutral feedback and recommendations.

How A Guardian Ad Litem Works

While anyone can request a guardian ad litem (just be prepared to pay for it), they are also assigned by the court. You can count on a guardian ad litem being assigned if there are any indications of abuse and neglect being brought forward.

The GAL begins by doing lots of interviews. They will definitely want to talk to both parents as well as the child. But, they also have a vested interest in anyone who can shed light on what is in the best interest of the child after the divorce. So, be prepared for them to interview teachers, coaches, family friends, and anyone else who plays a significant role with the child.

After doing all these interviews, the GAL files a report with the court. The GAL’s recommendation is not the final word about what will happen in the case, but traditionally the judge places a lot of weight in the GAL’s recommendations.

Your Attorney Can Help

No parent, especially in the middle of a contested divorce, wants to deal with a stranger going around interviewing people and making decisions about what kind of parent you are. It’s scary to think that a stranger can show up and, in a very short period of time, make a recommendation to the court that may impact how often you have contact with your child. Even though they are working in the best interests of the child, it’s still very worrisome and can be stressful.

That’s why talking to an experienced divorce attorney is vital. At Family Matters Law Group, we have extensive experience dealing with GALs. If you’re in Henry County (or any other metro Atlanta county), contact us for advice and assistance with a guardian ad litem. We can help you understand the process better and navigate any issues that may arise.