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Chicago, IL 60602


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Chicago Child Representation Lawyer

Chicago Guardian ad Litem GAL

Attorney Court-Approved to Serve as Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and Child's Representative in Cook County

Disputes related to children are certainly among the most challenging and sensitive cases in the entire realm of family law. The intensely personal nature of matters such as the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody), parenting time (visitation) schedules, or relocations to a new city or state can cause parents to struggle to stay focused on serving their child's best interests. Stress, anger, and resentment can easily cloud a parent's judgment in the midst of such disputes. To guard against reactions like this, the court has the discretion to appoint a specially trained attorney to help determine the best course of action in a particular case. This attorney may serve as a "guardian ad litem" or a "child's representative," depending on the county and the judge.

At The Law Offices of Curtis Bennett Ross, LLC, we understand that it can be disconcerting when the court appoints an outside professional to help with your case. It is important to realize, however, that the court will only appoint a guardian ad litem or a child's representative if doing so is necessary to protect the best interests of the child or children involved. As a court approved guardian ad litem and child's representative for Cook County, Attorney Curtis Bennett Ross knows how the system works and how best to work with the person appointed to your case.

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?

According to Illinois law, only a specially-trained and court-approved attorney may be appointed to serve as a guardian ad litem (GAL) in a child-related legal dispute. Much of a GAL's training focuses on various aspects of child welfare, and each county certifies the lawyers who are eligible to be appointed as GALs. When a GAL is appointed, he or she does not become the child's lawyer, nor does the GAL work on behalf of either parent. Instead, the GAL effectively serves as an extension of the court itself and is given the responsibility of conducting a thorough investigation of the case.

A GAL's investigation may include but is not limited to interviews with the child, each parent, and any other individual who may be able to offer helpful input, such as grandparents, teachers, and coaches. The GAL will also likely review financial records, previous court transcripts, and other available documents to gain a comprehensive understanding of the family's circumstances. From there, the GAL will rely on his or her experience and training to reach a conclusion regarding the outcome that would best serve the child's best interests. This conclusion is then prepared as a report and presented as expert witness testimony to the court. The GAL's investigation, methods, and conclusions are all subject to cross-examination by counsel for either party.

What Is a Child's Representative?

Depending on the county and the specific judge, a child representative may be appointed instead of a guardian ad litem, but the two roles are very similar. A child's representative must also be a specially-trained and court-approved attorney who is selected from a pre-determined pool of qualified individuals. The child's representative is given the same investigative authority as a guardian ad litem. Instead of making a recommendation and presenting it as expert witness testimony, however, the child's representative's conclusion effectively becomes an objective party to the case. This means that the child representative will make arguments and present evidence to the court supporting his or her conclusion but as a party to the case instead of an expert witness. While the child's representative does not represent either parent, he or she can also facilitate negotiations between the parties based on the results of his or her investigation and conclusions.

Cooperating with the Child's Representative or GAL in Illinois

You might not believe that a GAL or child's representative is needed to help resolve your case, but the court has decided to appoint one, your cooperation could be compelled by a court order. Such an order, however, should not be necessary. At The Law Offices of Curtis Bennett Ross, LLC, our team will assist you in cooperating with a child's representative or GAL and in ensuring that your rights are fully protected. Complying with the appointed attorney's efforts will show that you are fully committed to serving your child's needs, even when doing so is inconvenient for you.

Schedule a Free Limited Consultation Today

If the court has appointed a guardian ad litem or child's representative to your child-related legal matter, or you believe that one needs to be appointed, contact our office. Call 312-984-1514 to schedule a no-cost limited consultation today. Our firm serves clients in Chicago, Lincoln Park, Bucktown, The Loop, Gold Coast, Wicker Park, Andersonville, Wrightwood, Old Town, Greektown, Cook County, and the Daley Center Courthouse.

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