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.