News & Insights

The role of the Guardian ad-Litem
July 3, 2019

 

You are in the middle of a divorce case or custody matter and it doesn’t seem you or the other parent can agree on anything when it comes to the custody and parenting of the kids, what avenues might you have?  It may be time to appoint a guardian ad-litem for the children.

A guardian ad litem is an attorney who is appointed by the court to (1) represent and protect the best interests of a child; and at the request of the Court (2) provide serves including researching, examining, advocating, facilitating, and monitoring the child’s situation.  Ind. Code § 31-9-2-50.

A guardian ad-litem (“GAL” for short) should investigate all aspects that brought the parties to Court.

The GAL investigation should include speaking with all parents and children, and can include many others, including but not limited to friends of the parents, stepparents, neighbors, teachers, doctors, therapists, bus drivers, anyone the GAL believes can help them formulate an opinion on the children’s situation.

The GAL also has the ability to review the children’s school and medical records if those are at issue in the proceeding.

The investigation may begin heading one direction and with new information can take turns left and right, but always keeping the central focus on the best interests of the child.

If you have a GAL appointed in your case, what should you do?  Make contact with them immediately and stay in contact with them throughout your case.  They want to know you are invested in your case.  Provide them information when asked.  Tell them your concerns.  When the GAL is appointed, they only know a small amount of information from the original Order appointing them as GAL.  You can provide information that will help direct their investigation.  Be honest, lying to a GAL will only harm your case.  Keep your attorney informed throughout your involvement with the GAL so they know the status of the investigation.

The appointment of the GAL is often one of the best avenues a case involving children can take.  It puts the children’s voices front and center.  It allows both parents to air their issues to the Guardian ad-Litem for investigation.  It can help “reset” the case and often times help facilitate parents re-engaging in their co-parenting relationship.  Remember most of all, the Guardian ad-Litem’s primary goal is always to represent and protect the best interests of the children.

This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

 

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