By Sara Pitcher
Noblesville, Indiana Divorce Lawyer
My previous article “Guardian Ad Litem, Divorce and Child Custody” discussed a Guardian Ad Litem’s role in divorce and child custody cases, which is primarily to advocate for the child’s best interests and file a report with the court.
While the Guardian Ad Litem’s child custody report and findings are very persuasive to a judge, the judge is not bound to follow the Guardian Ad Litem’s recommendations.
Although the judge is not bound to follow the GAL’s recommendation, they often do as it would have been a waste of the parties’ resources to pay for a GAL only to have the judge issue a ruling inconsistent with the recommendations of the GAL without sufficient cause.
For this reason, it is best to have a favorable GAL report and to work cooperatively with the Guardian Ad Litem.
But if the child custody report is unfavorable to you, you do have options.
If a Guardian Ad Litem’s report is not favorable toward you or your position in the case, you may either try to work toward a settlement with the opposing party or litigate the issue in spite of the less than favorable report.
In order to successfully litigate the issue, you must present evidence to refute the Guardian Ad Litem’s position in the report. In order to do this, you will likely want to engage in discovery with the Guardian Ad Litem. You may engage in discovery with the Guardian Ad Litem like you would be permitted to with any other expert witness in a case.
To rebut the testimony or report of the GAL, you may also want to present the testimony of an unbiased expert witness who disagrees with the report of the Guardian Ad Litem, such as a child psychology expert.
However, if you plan to rebut the report of the GAL, be cautious not to attack the GAL personally or to appear desperate to refute the recommendations of the GAL without significant evidence. The judge may view this negatively.
The judge may have personally selected the GAL based on their previous workings with them and may have selected them based on their perceived ability to handle your particular case. The judge may not take kindly to an attack on the GAL – who is an officer of the court – if it is not supported by strong evidence.
Once a Guardian Ad Litem has been appointed to your case, whether you requested one or not, your best approach would be to cooperate with the GAL. Focus on what you believe to be in the best interests of your child and act accordingly. Once the GAL issues her report, you should decide your best course of action after consulting with an experienced mens divorce attorney.
Cordell & Cordell has divorce lawyers for men located nationwide.
To 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.
3 comments on “Overcoming A Negative Child Custody Evaluation”
Keep up the good work
I tend to agree with you. For some reason the courts these days are sending the wrong message when it comes to Mother’s not getting full custody. It’s almost as if the courts would rather be equal and non gender bias rather than look at the facts and apply them according.
I was a stay at home mother until my youngest of 3 was 10 years old. My ex husband was the bread winner. He was granted full custody of or 3 children and I was granted visitation 4 hours twice a week along with alternating weekends.
Here’s the kicker…..He has been convicted of Domestic Violence twice once against myself.
He has interfered with my parenting time constantly.
He has assaulted our eldest son in the presence of our two younger daughters.
He has violated the mutual restraining order to the tune of 63 calls to my phone in just 24 hours.
He has been ordered to pay spousal support and is not.
He was ordered to pay our mortgage and did not. (Filed bankruptcy a year later)
This man is untouchable.
I filed an appeal Pro Se, It then was reversed and remanded back to the court then get this, the same magistrate negates the Ninth District decision and rules the exact same way.
Finally, the court appoints a GAL, after speaking with all parties he recommends father still have full custody. He stated in his recommendations he firmly believes father had assaulted son, but its not an on-going situation. He also stated the children would rather mother have custody than father.
Isn’t a GAL job to recommend what is in the best children interest?
More and more GALs against mothers.
My ex-husband and his attorney hired a GAL who skewered me in her report, by way of manipulating, ommitting, and even fabricating ‘evidence’ based on her favoring my ex-husband…who paid for her services with our oldest son’s college fund. It has been a horrible experience, and he is now very emboldened, and upping his intimidation along with his lawyer (a golf buddy). This particular GAL is gaining a reputation for terrible bias against women, and she is becoming feared. She gets thousands of dollars per report, and does very little work. I’m very upset, and now have to spend thousands more dollars on a new attorney in order to respond to my ex’s attacks on my parenting, character and reputation. I do not trust these people, and urge women to be very, very careful, and engage a good attorney, and be ready to respond. The system is more and more stacked against women, because it’s usually not us who can afford to pay for the report. Did I have changes to make in my behavior? Yes. But a report that weighs out against you 90% is suspect, to say the least. These ‘experts’ know where their bread is buttered, and they’ll work for the paying client. I hate to say it, but follow the money.