Should You Request a Guardian ad Litem for Your Case?
When you are embroiled in a difficult divorce, it can be nearly impossible to work cooperatively with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Every aspect of the proceedings may seem like a fight with almost zero chance of reaching a negotiated resolution. While fighting over money and marital property is certainly bad enough, the problems get even worse when there are children involved. That is why the law in Illinois provides the court with the authority to appoint an attorney specifically to protect a child’s best interest in any matter related to parental responsibilities (child custody), parenting time, non-parental visitation, child support, or any other child-related legal proceeding.
Protecting the Child’s Best Interests
The court may appoint an attorney to serve in one of three roles: an attorney for the child, a child representative, or a guardian ad litem. Of these, the child representative and the guardian ad litem are the most commonly used and the guardian ad litem is usually the most appropriate for younger children.
The guardian ad litem works on behalf of the court and is empowered to investigate the circumstances of the case so he or she can determine the outcome that he or she believes would be best for the child. After interviewing all involved parties and reviewing pertinent documents and records, the guardian ad litem presents his or her recommendations to the court as expert testimony, subject to cross-examination. In most cases, the court relies very heavily on the findings of the guardian ad litem, since the appointed attorney is required to undergo specific training to be considered eligible for selection.
Asking for Help
One of the guardian ad litem’s primary responsibilities is to remove the emotion from the situation and to objectively analyze a given set of circumstances. This means a guardian ad litem may be especially needed if one or both parents has begun to lose sight of what their child needs. The law allows the court to appoint a guardian ad litem at its own discretion or at the request of either party. Although you may be hesitant to ask, if your child’s other parent has resorted to attacking your character or is making unfounded allegations regarding your parenting abilities, the appointment of a guardian ad litem may be in your best interest, in addition to that of your child.
If you are a parent going through a divorce, it is important to seek guidance from an experienced Geneva family law attorney. As a trained guardian ad litem, Attorney Douglas B. Warlick understands the importance of protecting your child’s best interests and he is ready to help your family in any way he can. Call 630-232-9700 to schedule your confidential consultation today.