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What are the Different Kinds of Child Advocates in Illinois? 

 Posted on September 10, 2021 in Child Custody / Parental Responsibilities

chicago custody lawyerWhen questions arise in an Illinois court case regarding the best interests of a child, there are many different people who may potentially be involved. Attorneys for each parent, child welfare agents, and other parties advocating for the best interests of the child may each play a role with slightly different responsibilities. 

In this article, we will examine the roles of child representatives, guardians ad litem, attorneys for the child, and custody evaluators. If a guardian ad litem has already been assigned to your child custody case, read our previous article to find out more about what you can do. 

What is a Child Representative? 

Child representatives are attorneys for a child and are tasked with advocating for the child’s best interests. They must investigate the circumstances and facts surrounding a case, meet with children and other relevant parties, and can be involved in court hearings related to allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, or overall parental fitness. Unlike a guardian ad litem, child representatives may not be called as witnesses to testify in court, and they do not submit a report to the court but instead provide evidence-based legal arguments. 

What is a Guardian ad Litem? 

A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an attorney that represents a child’s best interests in a court case. A GAL investigates, interviews children and their parents or guardians, and submits a report to the court for the judge’s consideration. GALs may testify or be cross-examined by attorneys of either party. A GAL is particularly important when parents are involved in custody disputes because they often have a substantial impact on the judge’s final decision to allocate parental responsibilities and parenting time. 

What is an Attorney for the Child? 

Simply put, an attorney for the child is a lawyer who represents a child in the same way that a lawyer would represent an adult. An attorney for the child does not conduct an investigation per se, but rather represents the legal interests of the minor. They are bound by the same standards of loyalty, competent representation, and confidentiality as an attorney working with an adult. 

What is a Custody Evaluator? 

A custody evaluator does not represent anyone but instead  is tasked with discovering the arrangement of parental responsibilities and parenting time that is in a child’s best interests. Crucially, custody evaluators make a written report and submit a custodial arrangement recommendation to a judge. Custody evaluators often conduct extensive investigations, including home visits and document requests. They are usually psychological professionals.

Work with a Downtown Chicago Child Custody Attorney

If a guardian ad litem or other child representative has been assigned to your case, consider working with an experienced Cook County family law attorney. The Law Offices of Curtis Bennett Ross, L.L.C. has experience with divorce, and is a court-approved guardian ad litem who can help you understand the role of child representatives in your custody dispute. Call us today at 312-984-1514 for a free initial consultation at our conveniently located downtown Chicago office.





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