The Role of a Guardian Ad Litem in Custody Cases
If you are facing a custody dispute in Georgia, you may want to know more about the role of a guardian ad litem or “GAL” in custody cases. It’s important to understand the role and responsibility of the GAL since this person’s decision can greatly affect the outcome in a custody case. Read on below to learn more about a GAL in Georgia custody cases.
What is a Guardian Ad Litem and Why Do They Get Involved?
The guardian ad litem is a person appointed by the judge in a custody case to advocate on behalf of a child’s interests. The GAL typically investigates all issues related to a child’s well-being and submits a report with recommendations to the judge. You should understand that the GAL advocates for the best interests of the child, and does not act as an advocate for either parent.
Not every case will involve a GAL. Cases in which the parents are able to reach an agreement amicably or only disagree on minor points typically are resolved without a GAL. Most often, a GAL is appointed in disputed custody cases where the parents strongly disagree on custody or visitation matters or are simply unable to reach an agreement. Where there are allegations of violence or abuse, a GAL may investigate these allegations to ensure the child is not placed in danger. In addition, a GAL is involved when one parent makes allegations that the other parent is unfit or unable to provide proper care.
Even the best parents can lose sight of what is best for a child in a heated and emotional custody dispute. Under these circumstances, a GAL tries to make sure the final outcome is in the best interests of the child involved.
What Does the GAL Do?
The GAL investigates all issues related to the child’s well-being and makes an objective recommendation to the judge regarding the child’s best interests. This investigation typically covers the parents’ living situations, the child’s schooling and medical history, and the parent’s ability to work together. A GAL can conduct home visits and interview the child, family members, or other witnesses. After conducting an investigation, the GAL issues a report making recommendations to the judge about what is in the child’s best interests. The parents can disagree with this report, and can present their own evidence.
If you’re a parent in Georgia and have questions about working with a guardian ad litem, please contact my office today to speak with a divorce attorney.