The Role of the Illinois Guardian Ad Litem
Illinois Guardian ad Litem Attorneys
Your children are always going to be your primary concern during divorce, child custody, or parenting proceedings. During these difficult and emotional times, you need someone to look out for the best interests of your child. Though not necessary in all legal proceedings involving children, some cases may require the appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL). A GAL is an attorney or otherwise court-approved third party that protects the rights and interests of an involved child. The GAL will investigate the best interests of the child, provide a recommendation, and be available for questioning by the judge to assist in a child custody or parentage dispute in the courts.
Why Appoint a Guardian ad Litem?
In some legal proceedings involving the support, custody, parenting time, education, parentage, property interest, or general welfare of a minor or dependent child, the court may determine a need for a GAL due to the unique circumstances of the parties. If neither party can advocate for the interests of the child, or one of the parties successfully brings a motion for the appointment of a GAL, a GAL will be appointed by the overseeing court.
Some judges may appoint GALs in nearly every case, regardless of the circumstances of the parties. Others will only appoint a GAL at the request of one of the involved parties. According to the relevant provision of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the court will consider the nature and adequacy of evidence supporting a motion to appoint a GAL as well as an evaluation of whether there are other methods available to obtain this information without the use of a GAL, including mental health professional recommendations, social service organizations, or other resources. The expense of the appointment is taken into consideration when considering a GAL as well, as there are costs incurred when appointing a GAL to a legal proceeding.
Regardless, the appointment of a GAL can change the course of the legal proceedings. The judge will consider the GAL to be "an expert on the law and an astute judge of character;" thus, their findings are taken very seriously and generally followed by the overseeing judge.
What Does the Guardian ad Litem Do?
The GAL’s sole responsibility is to make a recommendation based on their investigation into the child’s current needs, desires, and circumstances to determine the best interest of the child. Whether the recommendation be for appointment of sole custody, joint custody, or other legal matters, the GAL will prepare a recommendation based off contact and interviews with the child and parties. The GAL will be available to be questioned by the judge if there are concerns regarding the recommendations.
The GAL will have access to the child’s history, contact information for the involved parties, and will likely conduct interviews of all the parties in order to get a comprehensive idea of the parties’ situation. Only after obtaining this information will the GAL make their informed recommendation to the overseeing judge.
Guardian ad Litem Appointment in Illinois
Not only do our experienced family law attorneys at Mulyk Laho Law, LLC know how the appointment of a GAL can affect the underlying legal proceedings, we also have a deep understanding of how the process works. All of our attorneys are certified GALs in the 18th Judicial Circuit of DuPage County, and have seen first hand the types of cases where GALs are typically appointed, and how a GAL appointment changes the legal strategy on behalf of our clients.
Through this diversified experience, you can rest assured that our attorneys have been exposed to the jurisdiction where your case is being heard and will act accordingly based on our experience, knowledge, and practice. We know that your sole concern is protecting the best interest of your child; we will help you navigate your case from start to finish, regardless of whether a GAL has been appointed, will be appointed, or if you will proceed without the services of a GAL. Contact our passionate Glen Ellyn family attorneys to learn more about protecting your child’s rights during divorce or custody matters. Call (630) 852-1100 or fill out the online contact form to schedule an initial consultation.