What is an Illinois Guardian ad Litem?
Our attorney, mediator, and parenting coordinator, Erin Birt, is often appointed as the Guardian ad litem in a custody case. The role of the Guardian ad litem, also called a GAL, is to conduct an investigation of the minor child/ren's best interests, to encourage settlement when possible, and if the case proceeds to hearing or a trial, to make a recommendation to the court pursuant to the terms of the GAL appointment order.
If you are contemplating a separation or divorce or are working with a Guardian ad litem and need help, please check out our other alternative dispute family law services or contact us to discuss how we can help you transition out of family litigation. If, however, you are working with our Guardian ad litem or simply want to learn more about the process, please read on.
First Steps with a Guardian ad Litem
Upon a Guardian ad litem being appointed, it is best to email the Guardian ad litem any and all pending petitions or motions as well as any court orders entered in the case in the past and any court orders entered in the future as it is not necessary or needed for a Guardian ad litem to be at all status dates or court dates.
Watch Our Video Below About Getting Started with Our Guardian ad litem Erin Birt
The Guardian ad litem is NOT the Child's Attorney
Please keep in mind that the Guardian ad litem is not the child/ren's attorney and not a parent's attorney. The Guardian ad litem is a court appointed expert of the court to investigate the best interests of the child/ren. Information shared with a Guardian ad litem is not confidential. If a parent has any legal questions about the case, that parent should contact their attorney, or consult with an attorney, so that the legal questions may be adequately addressed. It is never the Guardian ad litem's role to provide a parent with legal advice.
Attorneys of the parents are welcome at any of the scheduled meetings with the GAL, however, during the pendency of this matter, the GAL will expect to be able to contact the parent's directly. If an attorney does not agree with the GAL contacting a parent directly or meeting with the GAL in his/her absence, it is best for the attorney confirm same to GAL in writing so that expectations and procedures for the investigation are clarified.
The Guardian ad litem Investigation Process
Our Guardian ad litem prefers to meet with both parents prior to meeting the child/ren. Our office will set your initial meeting with the GAL after we have received a parent's completed parental questionnaire and intake forms. After meeting initially with the parents, the Guardian ad litem will interview third parties, often called collaterals, with relevant information to the case. All meetings with the parents will primarily take place at our office or via Zoom during regular business hours, Monday through Friday between the hours. We request that each parent complete and tender responses to our parental questionnaire. The information will help the GAL to be familiar with the circumstances of the family and the environment that the child/ren reside in on a day to day basis.
Furthermore, while it is not required to visit the residence of the parents, it is often scheduled and will occur if the parties are unable to reach agreements before a hearing or trial. It is also helpful to the investigation if each parent provides the Guardian ad litem with photographs of their residence as well. Finally, should the matter not be resolved, the Guardian ad litem will schedule a time to meet with or observe the child/ren and this should be prioritized similar to doctor or dentist appointments.
Contact our Family Law Attorney, Mediator, and Experienced Guardian ad litem
https://www.birtlaw.com/contactContact our Family Law Attorney and Mediator if you need assistance with your Guardian ad litem or family law case that would benefit from having a Guardian ad litem. Contact us at (630) 891-2478 to get started as soon as possible. We offer a free Zoom Meeting, a free telephone call with our paralegal, or a limited scope legal service appointment with our attorney to help you address your family law concerns now. If you are interested in mediation to end the GAL or litigation process, we offer a free joint telephone call with both parents to discuss how mediation can help your children and family get out of the overwhelming and costly litigation process.