by: Julia Rodgers
A Guardian Ad Litem, commonly referred to as a “GAL”, is a third-party professional appointed by the court to report on and/or advise the court on matters relating to a minor child. The court may adopt the recommendations of the GAL. It is important to note that, unless appointed to do so, a GAL is not an advocate or attorney for the child, but rather an independent professional, whose job is to determine the best interests of the child.
In order to fulfill their objective of advocating for the child’s best interests in court, the GAL may report on and make recommendations for the child’s living arrangements, relationships, custody, parenting time, etc. These recommendations will be made after the GAL meets with both parents, the child(ren), and witnesses that each party may recommend. These witnesses are referred to as “collateral witnesses,” and may be friends, family, colleagues, or other individuals who can recommend as to what is in the best interest of the child(ren). The ability of the GAL to interview both parents, the child(ren), and other close family and friends, allows for a personalized recommendation of what is in the best interest of the child.
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