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What is Guardian Ad Litem and What Do They Do?

A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is generally a court-appointed attorney whose job is to represent the child/children in a contested legal dispute, such as child custody and divorce.

If the parties cannot agree on a custody schedule a GAL will often be appointed. A GAL is typically an attorney appointed to advocate for the child’s best interest.

Guardian ad litem’s responsibility is to represent the child/children and their best interests. They are a neutral party that can be objective and will recommend the best course of action for the children involved. GAL’s can launch an investigation into the child’s lives to determine custody and visitation. Some of the things they will look into is family background, family relationships, homelife, living conditions, schooling, and education goals. They will most likely make a home visit to talk to the child/children to further investigate. The GAL will take into consideration what the child says. In addition to the child/children, they can speak to teachers, babysitters, or other relatives and request medical and school records. Furthermore they will look into any custodial accusations and/or allegations that are made by the opposing party. If need be they may suggest child/children or parents undergo a physical/mental evaluation. Once the investigation is over, the Guardian Ad Litem will make their recommendation to the attorneys and the court.

A tip we can give you is the more information you give the GAL the better. By cooperating throughout the entire process, presenting it in an organized manner, and not impeding on the GAL boundaries can really help you. It is in your best interest to be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • A brief history of the parental relationship
  • A timeline of events leading to a custody dispute
  • Description of your parenting style
  • Snapshot of child’s daily routine
  • List of people they should interview
  • What would the other parent say about you
  • Think about your own strengths and weaknesses as a parent
  • Most importantly be honest

If the Guardian Ad Litem recommendation goes against you, try not to stress. The judge doesn’t always go with the GAL’s recommendation, but most judges take the recommendation seriously. If you have questions or need a divorce attorney, contact Brown Dutton & Crider at 770-422-4241.