What is a Guardian Ad Litem?
If you have ever been involved in legal proceedings that affect children, you've likely heard the term "Guardian Ad Litem". You are probably wondering, who are they, what do they do, and how do they affect my case?
A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an adult, court appointed attorney that represents the best interest of an individual, in our case, children, throughout the court proceedings. GALs are appointed in ALL child abuse/neglect cases and domestic violence cases. GALs are also appointed in family court cases, by the judge's discretion. The purpose of the GAL is to represent the well-being and best interest of the child.
In order to determine the best interest of the child, our GALs will devote their time to investigating the surrounding situation, creating reports, speaking to the child, family, and collateral, and delivering their findings to the court. Although the court is not bound by the recommendation of the GAL, their well-respected recommendations often hold a heavy influence on the final outcome of the case.
Our GALs take many facts into consideration throughout their investigation. This may include interviews with all children, both parents, teachers, counselors, and other adults that have insight on the children involved. You may also be asked to identify other relatives or friends that may have information. You may be asked for medical records, school information, or any other documentation that involves your child.
GALs will also take into consideration the wishes of the child, as well as the parents, the child's age, developmental, educational, physical, and psychological needs, and any other significant factors that may influence the child's overall health and well-being.