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Guardian Ad Litems: Who are They and What Role do They Serve in Your Divorce?


In any divorce case, the children’s interests are the most pressing concern to the Court. But with both parents hiring their own attorneys, the children often aren’t protected and their best interests may inadvertently fall to the wayside.

This is where a guardian ad litem steps in.

These professionals may be appointed at any time and serve an integral role when it comes to the children in any divorce proceeding. But, who are these professionals, when are they appointed, and what relationship will they have with you throughout the case?

Who is a Guardian ad Litem (GAL)?

Guardian ad litems are court-appointed attorneys who are solely concerned with the best interests of the child or children of any marriage. These attorneys will have special meetings with spouses and children throughout the case to make key findings and make recommendations to the Court and to the judge.

Many GALs will make recommendations regarding specific issues, including:

  • Where the children should reside;
  • Whether the children are in harm’s way in the presence of one (or both) of their parents; and
  • Whether the children should have contact with both their parents.

Of course, there are several other issues a GAL may intervene on. However, parental responsibility-related matters and parental visitation are the two issues that most GALs concern themselves with.

When is a GAL Appointed?

GALs are appointed by judges to fulfill a specific purpose. For example, a judge may appoint a GAL if parents cannot agree to a parenting time schedule. It is up to the Court to appoint the GAL or for either or both of the parents to request one if they cannot reach a resolution on some issues.

At the end of his or her appointment, the GAL will file a written report to make recommendations based on his or her investigation and the purpose of the appointment. Doing so will resolve issues in a divorce proceeding and hopefully help spouses reach a settlement regarding their divorce prior to going to trial.

What Can I Expect From a GAL as a Parent?

GALs do not work in the interest of either parent in a divorce proceeding. Rather, they are a third-party attorney who must be paid for separately and will work with the children. It is your legal obligation to work with a GAL and cooperate in the investigation.

Of course, a GAL will meet with both you and your spouse to make further judgment and decisions regarding the issue at hand. As such, you should view every meeting with the GAL as an opportunity to demonstrate who you are as a parent and to make positive impressions regarding your character.

Remember: Most judges will adhere to the GAL’s recommendations. This means it’s in your best interest to cooperate and facilitate a positive relationship with the lawyer assigned to your case.

Represent Your Best Interests at Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. 

While we are not GALs, we have over 35 years of experience in divorce law during which time we’ve worked with thousands of professionals hired to represent children.

If you’re concerned about the GAL in your case or are curious to learn more about the role he or she serves in your divorce case, contact a member of our team at 630-470-9990 or request your free 30-minute consultation online. We look forward to speaking with you and providing additional information you should know before moving forward.

Concentrated on Family Law

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

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About Attorney Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

We continue to work with clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Lisle, Oswego, Downers Grove, and the surrounding areas to provide one-on-one support and attention that will help you through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time. We look forward to offering our expertise and support to you throughout your case and after.