Disagreements over parental responsibilities, parenting time, and any other concerns regarding children can quickly reach a stalemate. Each parent may truly want what is best for their child but have vastly different opinions about how to achieve “what is best.” According to the law, when parents cannot reach an agreement, it is up to the court to create a solution that meets the child’s needs and protects his or her well-being. When two parents are presenting conflicting opinions, though, it can be difficult for the court to determine what would constitute the best outcome. For this reason, the court may appoint an individual called a guardian ad litem to provide assistance.
Qualifications of a Guardian ad Litem
In the context of child-related legal issues, Illinois law requires a guardian ad litem to be an attorney who has undergone specific training and certification processes. A guardian ad litem, therefore, not only understands the laws related to the allocation of parental responsibilities—formerly called child custody—and parenting time, but also investigative techniques and how to evaluate a child’s family circumstances. The court, when needed, selects a guardian ad litem from a regularly-updated list of attorneys available for appointment within the appropriate county.
The Guardian ad Litem’s Responsibilities
Once appointed, a guardian ad litem essentially serves as an extension of the court and not as a party to the case. He or she does not individually represent the child but is tasked with determining what outcome would best serve the child’s needs. To do so, the guardian ad litem is granted the ability to conduct an in-depth investigation, which generally includes interviews with the child, parents, extended family members, and any other relevant parties, as well as a review of financial documents and applicable court transcripts.
Based on his or her findings, the guardian ad litem will then prepare a recommended outcome for the court. The recommendation is considered to be expert witness testimony and is subject to cross-examination in the courtroom should the matter go to trial. Though the report is not binding as the court’s final decision, most judges take a guardian ad litem’s findings under serious consideration, as they are based on the most objective information available.
Kane County Lawyers Who Know the Law
If a guardian ad litem has been appointed to your case, or if you believe one should be appointed, contact an experienced St. Charles family law attorney right away. Our knowledgeable team can help you prepare to cooperate with a guardian ad litem and achieve the best possible resolution. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.