Top Things to Know About a Guardian Ad Litem in a Family Law Case

Top Things to Know About a Guardian Ad Litem in a Family Law Case

By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC

If you are currently going through a family law case (or will be soon) in Chicago and minor children are involved, you should know the court may appoint a person known as a Guardian Ad Litem (or GAL). Depending upon the specific facts of the case, a judge may simply decide to appoint a Guardian Ad Litem regardless of whether the parties request one, or one of the parties might request a GAL be appointed.

If a GAL is appointed in your case, it is important to understand the reasons for appointing a GAL, what role that person will play, and what your rights and responsibilities are with regard to the Guardian Ad Litem. The following are some of the top things you should know about a Guardian Ad Litem in a family law case.

GALs Are Appointed in Cases Involving the Child’s Best Interests

According to Illinois law, a GAL can be appointed in “any proceedings involving the support, custody, visitation, allocation of parental responsibilities, education, parentage, property interest, or general welfare of a minor or dependent child.”

Attorneys Typically Are Appointed As Guardians Ad Litem in Illinois

Different states have different rules concerning GALs. In Illinois, attorneys serve as GALs. The attorney who serves as a Guardian Ad Litem is a volunteer who advocates for the child. 

GALs Can Investigate to Determine What is in the Child’s Best Interests 

It is important for all parties involved in a case to know the GAL has a duty to investigate. The investigation can involve many kinds of inquiries. In a child custody case, a GAL will almost always visit the child’s residence and speak with the child. The GAL can also conduct interviews with various parties in the child’s life, such as the child’s friends, the child’s relatives, the child’s teachers, the child’s healthcare providers, and even the child’s neighbors. The GAL then creates a report that goes to the court, which discusses what is in the best interests of the child.

GALs Are Appointed in Many Different Types of Custody Cases 

You should know that GALs are appointed in a wide range of family law disputes involving minor children. While a GAL certainly may be — and likely will be — appointed in a case involving allegations of child abuse or neglect, a GAL can also be appointed in a divorce case where the parents are engaged in a bitter dispute over child custody where there are no allegations of any harm or violence involving the child or the family. In any family law dispute where a minor is involved, Illinois law recognizes the child needs an advocate and the GAL can fill that role.

Contact an Experienced Chicago Family Lawyer 

If you are involved in a family law matter in Chicago and have questions about the role of a GAL, it is important to speak with an experienced Chicago family law attorney who can respond to your inquiries. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm to learn more about the services we provide. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC today.