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guardian ad litem, fees, Geneva family law attorneyIf you are—or expect soon to be—in the midst of a complicated child-related legal dispute, there is a very strong possibility that the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to assist in the case. A guardian ad litem, or GAL, works essentially as an extension of the court in matters relating to allocating parental responsibilities—formerly child custody—adoption, guardianship, parental relocations, and any other proceeding that is expected to impact or protect a child’s best interests. While it may be useful to have a trained, objective attorney helping the court make a decision in your case, you should be aware that the services of a GAL are not usually free, and the court itself will probably not be picking up the tab.

Filing of Fees to the Court

Within 90 days of being appointed, the GAL must present a detailed invoice to the court and both parties for services rendered. These services include the GAL’s assigned duties to investigate the circumstances of the family’s situation, to interview appropriate parties, and to prepare a recommendation. If the GAL has been required to testify in court, he or she may include this time in the invoice as well, along with any other reasonable expenses incurred. Should the GAL’s services be required beyond those contained in the original invoice, he or she must file a new invoice every subsequent 90 days.

guardian ad litem, child representative, Kane County family law attorneyWhen 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.

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