What is a Guardian Ad Litem and Why Do I Need One for My Child Custody Case?
In Virginia Beach child custody cases, judges often appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for the children. 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 issues, etc.
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 child custody case in Virginia Beach, a GAL can be a major asset in your case. Our Virginia Beach child custody attorneys 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.
AUTHOR: James Garrett
Copyright Garrett Law Group, PLC
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.