Guardian Ad Litem, Divorce and Child Custody

guardian ad litemBy Sara Pitcher

Noblesville, Indiana Divorce Lawyer

A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is appointed in many divorce and child custody cases. A GAL will not enter a case until ordered by a judge.

However, either party in a family law case may request that the judge appoint a GAL in order to determine the best interests of the child or children involved in the case. The judge has discretion however, in deciding whether the party’s request should be granted.

In many states, a GAL is required to be appointed in abuse or neglect cases involving children.

Many guys wonder whether a Guardian Ad Litem would be helpful in their case and whether it would be beneficial to request one.

You may wish to request a GAL if you and the other party have a dispute as to a material aspect of the child’s well being and you wish to avoid litigating the issue in front of a judge. The GAL may be able to conduct their investigation and issue their report or discuss findings with the parties.

The parties may then be able to enter into an agreement based on the GAL’s findings. This may help the parties avoid the cost of the GAL fees combined with the expense of going to a hearing.

Guardian Ad Litem Cost

Often the Guardian Ad Litem’s fees are split equally between the parties. However, the court may order the parties split the cost with the higher earning spouse paying a higher percentage of the GAL fees.

The court may even order one party to pay the entire GAL fee, especially if the requesting spouse earns substantially more and the responding spouse objected to the request for a Guardian Ad Litem. The judge has discretion to determine the proper division of fees based on the circumstances of each case.


Role Of Guardian Ad Litem

Once a Guardian Ad Litem has been appointed in your case, you may be wondering what their role will be. A GAL will often be appointed in a case to look after the best interests of the child and report to the court, often through a written report, what the GAL believes to be in the best interest of the child. The Guardian Ad Litem’s role is to advocate for the child’s best interests in court.

The GAL may report on the child’s living arrangements, relationships, child custody, parenting time, etc. The GAL may also make recommendations for services that they feel to be in the best interests of the child and let the court know what the GAL hopes will happen in the case. The report to the court should be an independent assessment of the situation.


How GALs Evaluate Child Custody

In order to determine what will be in the best interest of the child, the Guardian Ad Litem will visit the child, the parents and step parents, and may visit with or contact others that the GAL feels may provide information necessary to help make a decision, such as teachers. The GAL may also review documents to form their opinion as to the best interests of the child.

In addition, the Guardian Ad Litem has the ability to subpoena witnesses to testify, ask questions and attend depositions, and access school and medical records of the child. The GAL may also ask the parties for a list of witnesses to speak with to obtain more information on the interaction of the parties with the child and the character of the parties.

While the Guardian Ad Litem is an advocate for the best interests of the child, the GAL is not the child’s attorney. The GAL is not obligated to do what the child wants and communications between the child and the GAL are not kept confidential since they may be disclosed in the GAL’s report or through discovery.

Cordell & Cordell has divorce lawyers for men located nationwide.

Noblesville Indiana Divorce LawyerTo arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Noblesville, Indiana Divorce Lawyer Sara Pitcher, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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4 comments on “Guardian Ad Litem, Divorce and Child Custody

    Can the Guardian Ad Litem see thru all of the mudslinging of my wife ? She has turned my boys against me and they hate me because of this divorce which she started. She currently has custody of them.

    I have many questions myself as what the guardian ad litem has the power to do. The guardian ad litem I have experience with would not have communication with me (the mother) nor my girls while they were in my care but the minute they were with their dad she had multiple communications with them as well as their dad and his wife. I would send her emails of my concerns she would either blow me off or completely ignore them or simply send me a blow off reply or a flat out lie (I have those blow off and flat out lying emails as well). She never did contact their healthcare provider, teachers or few people here for that matter. She did in fact contact one of my friends and she turned him into a pedophile on the stand in court with NO knowledge or justification. She never made or attempted or even talked about a home visit either. The guardian ad litem in my case had never held an investigation but yet she has made allegations that are so untrue that I could vomit. My precious girls and I use to be so very close and now since being with their dad they HATE me. He also reminds me how happy they are to not talk to me (have that in an email) He also talks to them about my emails when I am emailing him not the girls (also have that in writing from my girls) I even have text messages from him telling me everything is my fault and my problem when the girls are hateful and disrespectful to me. I am basically not allowed to ask them any questions. I am not certainly not privy to social media information ie. user names unless the girls want to share them with me. They made it very clear they don’t have to share that information with me as well. Whenever I would bring up any concerns I had she would always come back with the same thing……..”I have spoken to both girls separately and privately and neither one as any idea of anything….” Even though I have physical proof that their dad has inappropriate conversation with the girls in regards to emails or court issues. I can’t understand how a person has such power and clout to ruin lives. Do I have the right to any reports to the allegation? I have nothing in my background to allow for such abuse of the system. Meaning no criminal history, no jail time, no domestic violence no psychiatric hospital stays, no bipolar diagnosis and no attempts of suicide (all of which my ex husband has on his record) I have also never had a DUI or DWI (I am a social drinker which is legal I am 44). I am perplexed as to how this is happening. I though the guardian ad litem is to be objective, her very first report was anything but objective. She has made multiple statements as to why she doesn’t contact anyone that could provide positive information about me and the lives of my girls…..”They are team Ravin” so I will not get objective statements….what the world? What does she think? My ex husband is going to have objective statements from people he knows? And, since when is a teacher, principal, health care provider, youth director etc etc not objective? I know for a fact the guardian ad litem has abused her powers in the most unethical way possible and as a result my girls are truly suffering. They are unfortunately convinced I love the dog and cat more than I love them. It breaks my heart in so many pieces they believe that to be true. Not only has the GAL abused her powers but my ex husband and his wife are guilty of parent alienation and hostile parenting from all the research I have done….on the Indiana parenting time guidelines and various sites regarding these issues. I would sure love some help I am going crazy here!!! This is not a matter that only dads deal with…..there are terrible parents on both sides and these issues need to be addressed!

    I feel that my child’s guardian ad litem is taking my husband side because he ran off with all th money and he has the money to pay her. This is horrible and I think there are cracks in the system.

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