The Differences Between a Guardian ad Litem and a Child Representative
When any child-related legal proceeding has reached a point at which it has become clear that the parents or other parties to the case cannot agree on what constitutes the child’s best interest, the court may intervene and appoint an attorney to serve on behalf of the child. There are several roles under law which a lawyer may be appointed to fulfill, but the two most common are called the guardian ad litem and the child representative. The responsibilities of each, as they pertain to family law matters, are specified in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.
Child’s Best Interests
Although only one or the other is typically appointed it a given case, both the guardian ad litem (GAL) and the child representative (CR) share a common goal: identify and advocate for the best interests of the child. In order to identify the best possible outcome for the child, the GAL and CR are both granted investigative powers. They are permitted and encouraged to interview the child, both parents, and any other interested party to the case. They may also review court documents, filings, and other evidence to help establish what they believe to be the most positive situation for the child.
The primary difference between the GAL and CR is found in the courtroom. The guardian ad litem, while advocating for the child’s best interest, acts primarily as an extension of the court and as an expert witness. His or her recommendation is presented to the court as testimony, and he or she is subject to cross-examination related to that testimony.
The child representative, on the other hand, acts a separate party to the case. Instead of directly representing the child as a client, however, the CR represents the child’s best interest. He or she will present evidence and advocate on behalf of the position established by the results of the investigation. Normal rules of courtroom procedure apply, and the CR’s position is not necessarily granted any stronger weight than that of any other party.
Legal Help for Child-Related Matters
In order for an attorney to be eligible for an appointment as a guardian ad litem or child representative, he or she must meet the training and certification requirements set forth by the appropriate county. Attorney Doug Warlick is a fully-trained, court-appointed guardian ad litem and he is prepared to help you and your family with any legal issues you may be facing. Contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney today and get the assistance you need from a lawyer you can trust.