Tag Archives: guardian ad litem

IL custody lawyerAnytime two people go to court over a dispute regarding the care and custody of minor children, the court must carefully assess what is best for the child. Although the vast majority of parents truly want what is best for their kids, reasonable people can certainly disagree about what is indeed the best thing. Jealousy, anger, resentment, and any number of other hostile emotions are frequently at play in a divorce or separation case, so it is not uncommon for the court to find it difficult to ascertain what is really going on outside of court. This is where a guardian ad litem (GAL) comes in. The GAL does not represent the parties, so if you need representation, you should speak to an experienced family law attorney near you right away.

Understanding the Role of the GAL

No matter how good of a parent you think you are, remember that the judge does not know you personally. He or she must rely on what you and your spouse (or your respective attorneys) tell the court. Because the judge’s primary concern is protecting minor children, the judge will want to get a glimpse into the home life, parenting, and other elements that may make a difference. A court-appointed guardian ad litem acts as the eyes and ears of the court. The GAL will typically speak to each parent separately and find out as much as possible about their point of view, what they want for the child, and how they propose to handle issues that may arise. The GAL will also speak to the child, assuming the child is old enough to communicate. The GAL then prepares a report to the judge, which summarizes the GAL’s findings, opinions, and recommendations.

Confusion About the GAL’s Position

Many people get confused about the various attorneys and representatives that can be involved in a child custody dispute. Section 5/506(a) of the Illinois Family Code sets forth the obligations and responsibilities of GALs, as well as other representatives. For instance, in a child custody dispute, there may be up to three additional individuals involved in the process, beyond the attorneys representing the parents. These may include:

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Hinsdale family law attorneysIf you are involved in a disputed child custody or visitation case in Illinois, odds are there will be a Guardian ad Litem appointed for your child.

The Guardian ad Litem or "GAL" is a Court appointed attorney who will investigate the claims that you (or any other parent/interested party) make regarding the child's custody and visitation, as well as accusations of physical or mental abuse of your child by a parent or third-party.

Listed below are important facts to keep in mind when you speak to the Guardian ad Litem.

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illinois divorce bankruptcy attorneyReason five:  Bankruptcy and divorce law frequently come into play during the course of a divorce case.

Divorce lawyers generally advise divorce first and then file bankruptcy. The reasoning is while a bankruptcy court may discharge a spouse's debt to a creditor, the divorce judge may later order that same debt paid despite bankruptcy. The typical example includes the following: husband and wife have borrowed money from the wife's parents, then the husband files bankruptcy and includes the debt to her parents. In a later divorce, the wife's successfully argues to the divorce judge that since the borrowed money from her parents was used for marital purposes that debt to her parents remains unpaid, and she is remains responsible for the debt. Therefore,  the husband should also pay that debt despite his bankruptcy. The divorce judge may well agree and order the husband to pay the debt despite his bankruptcy.

Another example of where bankruptcy law and divorce law intersect is if you're ordered to pay your spouses divorce attorneys fees, and then you later file a bankruptcy, those attorneys fees may be found to be nondischargeable by the bankruptcy court. You still owe them bankruptcy or not. Although your have gone bankrupt you must still pay the divorce attorneys fees. Likewise, if you're ordered to pay attorneys fees for a Guardian ad Litem (GAL)  in a child custody case arising during your divorce, these GAL fees are also nondischargeable in bankruptcy.

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illinois guardian ad litem in child custody case"What should I expect when a Guardian Ad Litem has been appointed by the Judge in my child custody case?"

A Guardian Ad Litem or "GAL" is a lawyer who is selected by an Illinois Court and appointed in your custody or visitation case to make an investigation as to what custody or visitation arrangements are in the best interests of your child.

While the Judge in your custody case will ultimately make the decision as to who should have custody of your child, that Judge has no independent knowledge of the facts of your case. A Judge will frequently appoint a lawyer to find out the basic facts and report back to the Court. The lawyer is appointed as a Guardian Ad Litem.

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