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What Happens If a Guardian Ad Litem is Assigned to My Child Custody Case?

 Posted on June 25, 2021 in Child Custody / Parental Responsibilities

chicago child custody lawyerIn Illinois, child custody is broken down into two components. The allocation of parental responsibilities refers to how parents divide child-related decision-making responsibilities. Parenting time, formerly called visitation, refers to the time a parent spends directly caring for his or her child. Parents are asked to reach an agreement about parenting time, parental responsibilities, and other parenting concerns and describe the agreement in a parenting plan. However, reaching an agreement about these issues is not always easy – especially when divorcing or unmarried parents disagree about what is best for their child. In some child custody disputes, a guardian ad litem is assigned to the case.

Understanding the Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

In any child-related legal dispute, the child’s best interests are the court’s top priority. When parents disagree on how to allocate parental responsibilities or parenting time, the court may intervene and make a decision on the parents’ behalf. In some child custody disputes, a guardian ad litem (GAL) is assigned to the case. GAL’s are attorneys with special training in family law issues. The GAL is not an attorney representing either parent. Instead, the GAL’s job is to investigate the circumstances of the dispute and use what he or she learns to determine what is in the child’s best interests. The GAL shares his or her findings with the court and makes an official recomendation about the case’s outcome.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?

If you are a parent, grandparent, or other guardian going through a child custody dispute, you may be shocked to learn that a guardian ad litem has been assigned to your case. You may even feel offended that the court deems a guardian ad litem necessary. Remember, the GAL’s job is to ensure that the court’s decision is as informed as possible. Having a GAL assigned to your case does not mean that you are being accused of anything.

To determine what is in the child’s best interests, the GAL may conduct an investigation to learn the facts of the case. He or she may interview you, the other party involved in the dispute, and the child. The GAL may also evaluate school and childcare records, medical records, and police reports. You may feel uncomfortable about a stranger asking you and your child questions or looking through personal documents. However, the best thing you can do in this situation is to cooperate with the GAL’s investigation. Evading questions or withholding information can damage your credibility and reduce your chances of winning the case.

Contact a Chicago Child Custody Lawyer

For skilled legal representation and support during a child custody dispute, contact Cook County family law attorney Curtis Bennett Ross. In addition to being an experienced family law and divorce attorney, Mr. Ross is also a court-approved guardian ad litem. Call 312-984-1514 for a free consultation.




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