Guardian ad Litem in Naperville, Illinois
A Guardian ad Litem (or GAL) is an attorney appointed by the court to represent children during contested cases of divorce, neglect, custody, and parentage matters. A GAL’s role is to represent the children’s best interests when parents cannot agree, and are the eyes and ears of the court. GALs are tasked with tremendous responsibility to be the voice for children, some of whom cannot speak, and to protect their emotional, physical, and legal needs during the pendency of the case.
GALs assess the needs and interests of the children by conducting interviews with the children and their families, schools, therapists, as well as home visits. GALs are encouraged to take the children’s wishes into consideration, as well as all relevant information compiled throughout their investigation, and make recommendations to the court. GALs provide these recommendations throughout the case during court appearances, testimony, and formal reports. GALs are often tasked with monitoring compliance of court orders as it relates to issues of parental responsibilities, alienation, decision-making, parenting time, and the welfare of the children.
Although GALs do not involve themselves in the distribution of the marital estate or financial matters unrelated to the children, they remain involved in the case until all issues relating to the children have been resolved. The cost of a GAL is often split between the parents, but the court has discretion in determining how the fees will be allocated between the parties based on their financial circumstances and the reason a GAL is being appointed.