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Child Representation: The Guardian ad Litem

Posted on in Child Custody

guardian ad litem, Illinois law, Arlington Heights family law attorneyIf the court presiding over your child custody or visitation dispute has appointed a guardian ad litem to your case, it is important to recognize the significance of such an appointment. It is also helpful to understand the guardian ad litem’s role so that you can be prepared to work closely with him or her in the fulfillment of the assigned duties. When utilized properly, a guardian ad litem can be a valuable resource in finding a workable, healthy resolution to any child-related legal matter.

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

Under Illinois law, only a qualified attorney can be appointed as a guardian ad litem (GAL) in family law cases. The attorney must also be properly trained and certified to serve in such a capacity, as required by the county or jurisdiction. Once appointed, the GAL works as an extension of the court and not as legal counsel for any party to the case. He or she is expected to determine a recommended outcome that will serve the best interests of the child and then to present that information to the court as, essentially, an expert witness.

Working with the GAL

It is extremely important to keep in mind your child’s best interest is the GAL’s primary concern. He or she can provide an objective overview of the situation and is granted investigative powers to collect relevant information. The GAL may interview you, the other parent, your child, and any other necessary party, to learn more about your family and how your child may be affected by various proposed outcomes. In addition, the GAL can also review records, tax returns, or transcripts of previous court action, to build a more accurate understanding. It is in your best interest to cooperate fully with the GAL, as obstructing him or her can have serious repercussions in the final resolution of your case.

Presenting the Findings

The guardian ad litem will use the collected information to develop a trained, professional opinion on a recommended outcome, which he or she will then present to the court as testimony. The attorneys for any involved party are permitted to cross-examine the GAL regarding the recommendations. Since the GAL is an extension of the court, however, his or her recommendations generally carry significant weight and are often used as the basis for the resulting orders.

If you are involved in a child custody matter or any other dispute in which a guardian ad litem may be appropriate, contact an experienced Lombard family law attorney today. At A. Traub & Associates, several of our lawyers are court-approved guardians ad litem, and as such, we thoroughly understand the importance of the role. We can help you petition the court to have a GAL appointed, as well as assist you in working with a previously-appointed GAL. Call us today to learn more about what our team can do for you.

Sources:

http://www.cookcountycourt.org/ABOUTTHECOURT/CountyDepartment/DomesticRelationsDivision/ChildRepGuardianAdLitemGAL.aspx

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=075000050K506

Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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