In the context of family law, a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a court-appointed person whose main duty is to look after the best interests of a child. GALs have traditionally been required in abuse and neglect cases, but not in divorce cases. However, the use of GALs in divorce cases is becoming more common with time.
Why a GAL is necessary
As broadly defined above, a GAL is needed to ensure that the child's interest and welfare are catered for during the divorce. Otherwise, some parents may end up looking out for their respective interests at the expenses of their children during a divorce. Specifically, here are some of the things a GAL can help with during divorce:
- Making sure that the child gets to live in a safe environment
- Ensuring that the child's basic needs of housing, medical care, and food are catered for
- Ensuring that the parents provide for the child's education
- Ensuring that the custody arrangement is best for the child and not their parents
How they Work
As you can see, a GAL has a huge and important role to play during divorce; in fact, you may be wondering how they get to do all these things. Well, there is no single role or task that GALs do to achieve their objectives; they take different routes depending on the situation. Still, there are several approaches GALs often take, and they include the following:
The GAL will interview the child, parents, teachers, other relatives and any other person with regular contacts with the child. This is necessary to understand the child, their needs, and their relationship with the parents better.
The GAL will also review relevant documents such as medical records, financial records, and school records and report their findings to the court. For example, a review of educational reports may shed light on any special educational needs in the child that should be catered for during child support determination.
The GAL may also visit the child's home or parents' residences to examine the living arrangements. They may examine the safety of the home, the available space, proximity to the school, among other things. This can help the court decide the best custody arrangements for the child.
The GAL plays a critical role in the divorce so it's good to know how to deal with them. An experienced family law professional can help you with the issue and any other issues you may have with your divorce.Share