It is all too familiar to most people that legal proceedings related to children can quickly deteriorate into ugly, contentious battles. Although it can happen for many reasons, unfortunately, it occurs most often when parents cannot separate themselves from the emotion of the situation, allowing their feelings for each other to cloud their judgment regarding the child’s best interests. Despite recent changes to the statute in Illinois regarding child custody—now called the allocation of parental responsibilities—there is no way to entirely prevent acrimonious disputes. To help the process, however, a family court has the authority under law to appoint a guardian ad litem, an attorney who serves as an extension of the court.
The Guardian ad Litem’s Duties
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a guardian ad litem (GAL) must be an appropriately trained and certified attorney, who is appointed to assist the court in understanding the circumstance relevant to a child-related legal matter. A GAL may be asked to help in the allocation of parental responsibilities, proceedings for parenting time disputes, relocations, and any other matter in which the child’s best interest are of primary concern.