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Can I Change My Child’s Guardian Ad Litem in Illinois?

 Posted on April 11, 2024 in Child Custody / Parental Responsibilities

Skokie, IL child custody lawyerWhenever a legal proceeding involves a child, such as a divorce or child custody case, a court can appoint a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem (GAL), which is Latin for “a guardian for the lawsuit,” is a person who advocates for a child’s interests in any court proceeding that involves an underage or mentally incompetent child. In Illinois, GALs are attorneys who have gone through extra training.

If you have questions about appointing a GAL for your child, it is best to consult with a family law attorney who can advise you.

This article will discuss what a GAL does, when one is appointed, and whether you can change your child’s GAL.

What Does a GAL Do?

A GAL’s job is to make sure the child’s interests are protected during court proceedings. Once appointed, the GAL will usually launch an investigation into the child’s history, needs, living environment, relatives, and other life elements. By Illinois law, a GAL must do the following:

  • Conduct at least one interview with the child before and after the final hearing.

  • Conduct at least one interview with the child’s foster parents or caregivers before and after the final hearing.

If the Department of Child and Family Services has any records of significant events concerning the child, such as reports of abuse or neglect, they will be provided to the GAL. The GAL also has subpoena power, which means he or she can force the relevant parties to produce certain documents.

At least 30 days before the final hearing, the GAL will submit his or her recommendations to the court. Judges do not have to follow the recommendations, but many times they do.

Can I Appoint a GAL?

You cannot appoint a GAL yourself, but you can request that the court do so. Illinois law grants the court broad discretion when appointing a GAL, which it can do whenever it feels the child’s interests may be threatened. In addition, courts will appoint a GAL when:

  • It is requested by one of the parties

  • There have been reports of child abuse or neglect

  • The child’s parents or guardians did not show up to any of the hearings

Can I Change a GAL Who Was Appointed by the Court?

If a GAL was already appointed by the court, you cannot request the GAL be changed without good cause. If, for example, the GAL had previously represented one of the parties to the case in the past, you might be able to petition the court to appoint a new GAL. In general, however, a court will not be likely to change the GAL without a compelling reason.

Contact a Chicago, IL Family Lawyer

If you are thinking about asking the court to appoint a GAL or you want to change a GAL who was already appointed, you should consult with a qualified Skokie, Illinois family law attorney. Curtis Ross is a family lawyer who is also a certified GAL and can walk you through the process. Contact The Law Offices of Curtis Bennett Ross, L.L.C. at 312-984-1514 for a free limited consultation.

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