What Should I Do if a Guardian ad Litem Has Been Assigned to My Illinois Divorce Case?
Many divorcing parents in Illinois find themselves locked in a seemingly intractable dispute about issues related to their children. Maintaining objectivity during divorce can be very difficult, and hostility between parents can spill over into the children’s lives, negatively affecting them and making it very difficult to compromise about parenting time and parental responsibilities.
In the most contentious divorces, it may not be immediately obvious to a judge which custody arrangement would most benefit a child and so he or she may appoint a professional known as a guardian ad litem. If you are getting divorced or modifying a parenting agreement and have had a guardian ad litem assigned to your case, read on.
The Role of a Guardian ad Litem in Illinois
A guardian ad litem’s job is, essentially, to determine the best interests of a child during a very specific period of time - usually, during a divorce or custody dispute. Guardians ad litem in Illinois are licensed attorneys with special training that prepares them to do the appropriate investigation, fact-finding, and data collection necessary to determine a child’s best interests.
What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?
While one or both parents are usually ordered to pay for the guardian ad litem, he or she acts as an extension of the court. A guardian ad litem is objective, neutral, and is not interested in helping one party get more parenting time or parental responsibilities. Instead, he or she has the primary goal of undertaking any activities which would inform the court as to the child’s best interests. These can include:
- Interviewing the child and his or her siblings
- Interviewing neighbors, teachers, religious leaders, and anyone else who may have knowledge of the child’s situation
- Visiting the child at each parent’s home
- Interviewing both parents
- Ordering a psychological evaluation of both parents
- Reviewing relevant data, including a child’s grades, health history, police reports, and any other necessary documents
Based on her investigation, the guardian ad litem creates a report for the judge, detailing her findings and making a recommendation for the outcome of the case. The guardian ad litem’s recommendation is considered expert testimony, and a judge may call a guardian ad litem to the stand to testify. Each parent’s attorneys are permitted to cross-examine the guardian ad litem and dispute any findings which may cast them in a negative light.
Meet with a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer
Finding out a guardian ad litem has been assigned to your case can be confusing and intimidating. With the help of an experienced St. Charles, IL family law attorney with Shaw Sanders, P.C., you can get the representation you need so you know what to expect and what to do. We have helped many parents navigate divorce involving guardians ad litem and can help you meet your child’s needs while advocating passionately on your behalf. Call us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free case review.