Blog posts tagged in role of guardian ad litem
When parents with minor children divorce in Illinois, the court asks them to submit a mutually agreed parenting plan that includes an allocation of parenting time and decision-making responsibility. The court will approve that plan as long as it appears to be in the best interests of the children. However, if the parents cannot agree, the court will have to determine the parenting plan. To ensure that the court has enough information to make decisions in the best interests of the children, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to conduct an investigation and report back to the court. A parent may also ask the court to appoint a GAL if they believe that the court needs to hear an independent perspective on certain matters, e.g., a child’s special needs or the fitness of a parent to care for a child.
What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do in an Illinois Divorce Case?
A guardian ad litem is an independent attorney who acts as an investigative arm for the court. The GAL does not represent the wishes of either parent nor the wishes of the children. Rather, their goal is to help the court make decisions that are in the best interests of the children. While the court will listen to each parent’s individual perspective, the GAL’s perspective will be given substantial weight as a trusted representative of the court.
The GAL’s investigation will generally include:
Divorce and other domestic matters, such as requests for parenting time and/or allocation of parental responsibilities for a child born to non-married couples, are emotionally charged and complex matters. As such, they are often difficult to navigate, even for those that wish to resolve matters amicably. Illinois family law courts understand this and have provisions in place to help families work through their domestic disputes. Learn more about guardians ad litem and other court-appointed mediators, including what they do and why you might need one, with help from the following information.
Guardians ad Litem
In family courts, guardians ad litem are appointed to protect the best interests of a child. They are often used when parents are unable to reach an agreement over the allocation of parental responsibilities and/or parenting time. They may also be used if there are concerns over neglect or abuse of the child. Much of what they do is investigation work - they examine the life of each parent, home, and support system. They often speak with the child and may even do surprise home inspections. They then present their information to the court so that the judge can make determination over the child’s placement.
In most legal matters, the law focuses on empowering all members of society to make legal decisions that are best for themselves. However, sometimes the rights of many are restricted because they lose their ability to make decisions for themselves; the courts then step in and take action on their behalf to ensure that their interests are protected. This can lead, unfortunately, to a population that is left unable to act in their own legal best interests. This happens largely when a man or woman becomes incompetent either through age and/or disability, and the courts provide these wards with a guardian ad litem to represent them in legal family law issues concerning them.
It is important at any age, and with any disability, that citizens of our society still have their rights adequately represented. In family disputes, minors are provided with their own guardians ad litem to make sure that, though they are considered “incompetent” because they have not reached the age of majority, their rights are still protected even in the face of family disputes.