Most family court judges do not favor having children testify in court during a child custody hearing. Custody cases are stressful and emotional matters for the parents involved, and even more so for the children. A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is an experienced family law attorney who is appointed by the court to represent the interest of the children in a contested child custody case.
The GAL will interview the children and
gather their thoughts on their relationship with the parents and the
custody situation in general. In some cases, the children may express a
preference to live with a particular parent that they may not otherwise
disclose to the parents. The GAL will also meet with the parents and
discuss custody and visitation plans, living arrangements, education
After investigating the case, the GAL
will issue a report of their findings and recommendations to the Court. A
good GAL will issue a written report that is available to the attorneys
for each of the parents. This report is not binding on the court in any
way, but often the judge will adopt the recommendations of the GAL.
It is important to understand the role
of a GAL in your child custody case. Many parents view a GAL as an
adversary. Some parents make the mistake of making disparaging comments
about the other parent during a GAL interview. The GAL ‘s role is not to
favor one parent or the other, but to form an opinion as to what is in
the best interest of the children, their client.
You should always be respectful to the
GAL and never get emotional about your relationship with your children,
the other parent, or the other parent’s relationship with the children.
The GAL will assume that if you are open to making unfavorable comments
regarding the other parent to them, then you are likely to do so in
front of your children which will hurt your case.
If you have a contested custody case, a GAL can be a major asset in your case. We
will advise you on the role of a GAL and how you can better prepare
yourself to get the best possible outcome in your child custody case.
For more information, go to my website at www.commanderlaw.com.