Differences Between a Guardian ad Litem and a Child Representative

A couple who recently celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary has decided to get divorced. The wife is a functioning alcoholic. Although she can show up to work and come home, she is barely able to parent. Despite trying to help his wife for years, the husband has realized that there is nothing more he can do. He would like custody of their children, knowing that his wife cannot take care of them while constantly drinking alcohol.

The wife, infuriated, tries to claim that her husband has physically abused her and their children. Now the couple is involved in a very heated divorce proceeding. The judge is considering appointing a child representative to determine child custody issues. We will discuss the differences between an attorney for the child, a child representative, and a guardian ad litem, or GAL, below.

Unbiased Third Party Opinions in Child Custody Matters

When a married couple becomes involved in a divisive and challenging divorce, their issues can bleed into child custody matters. If you find yourself in this scenario, it is essential to understand the differences between an attorney for the child, a child representative, and a guardian ad litem. These three people are unbiased third-party advocates who provide their expert opinions on child custody matters.

Judges use these opinions to determine child custody, parenting time, and the minor child’s best interests. A judge can appoint one of these parties. Or, an attorney for one or both spouses can submit a motion requesting the assistance of one of these individuals during a heated family law proceeding.

An Attorney for the Child

An attorney for the child is an attorney who represents the child or children involved in the custody matter. The attorney for the child can provide the child with independent legal counsel. Attorneys for the child owe the same duties of confidentiality, loyalty, and competent representation as they would owe an adult client.

A Child Representative

A child representative is an attorney for the child who advocates what she thinks would be in the child’s best interest. The child representative must carefully review the facts and circumstances of the case, meet with the child in person and the parents, investigate the facts of the case and encourage the parents to settle. In some cases, the child representative will encourage alternative dispute resolution between the parents. Child representatives cannot be called as a witness to testify during the proceedings.

A Guardian Ad Litem

Finally, a guardian ad litem, also called a GAL, is an attorney for the parties’ children. The guardian ad litem investigates the facts of the case, interviews the child and the parents, and can provide testimony to the court. Unlike a child representative, the guardian ad litem can submit a written report to the judge regarding his or her recommendations of what would be in the child’s best interest. They can also be called as a witness and cross-examined regarding their recommendation.

Contact an Illinois Divorce Lawyer

If you need representation for a divorce or child support matter in Cook County, Glasgow & Olsson is here to help. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.

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