Should I Ask for a Guardian ad Litem to be Appointed?
“The best interests of the child” is one of the most common phrases in the realm of family law. A child’s well-being, of course, should remain among the top priorities in proceedings for divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, non-parent visitation, and adoption. The challenge, however, is that determining what exactly constitutes a child’s best interests is open to interpretation. As such, each parent may fully believe that they are acting in their child’s best interests yet hold vastly different objectives regarding the outcome of the case.
Helping the Process
When you and your child’s other parent cannot agree on a parenting plan or other arrangements regarding your child, the court is likely to offer several options. To start with, you may be required to participate in court-ordered mediation designed to help you and the other parent reach an agreement with the help of a third-party mediator. Mediation, however, is only possible in situations where both parties are willing and able to work constructively with one another.
Alternatively, the court may appoint a specially-trained and certified attorney—not one who is representing either you or the other party—to serve as a guardian ad litem (GAL). The guardian ad litem will be expected to investigate your family’s circumstances to develop an outside, objective opinion of what the child’s best interests are. Based on the GAL’s findings, the GAL will make a recommendation to the court regarding the most appropriate outcome for the case.
Your Right to Request a GAL
Illinois law permits the court to appoint a guardian ad litem on its own accord or as the result of a motion filed by either party. If you believe that you are acting in your child’s best interests and the other parent is not, you may consider asking the court to appoint a GAL to your case. Keep in mind that asking for a GAL does not give you any formal leverage during the proceedings. As a representative of the court, the GAL must focus on the facts of the case, and, while your willingness to cooperate will help prove your dedication to your child’s best interest, it is only one of many factors the GAL will consider.
Speak to a Kane County Family Law Attorney
Many of the attorneys at MKFM Law have been trained and appointed by the Court to serve as a guardian ad litem in child-related cases. We are available to answer your questions and to help you better understand how a guardian ad litem could help with your case. Contact an experienced St. Charles family lawyer at our office by calling 630-665-7300 today.