In Illinois, when your child's interests need to be represented in court, he may have a guardian ad litem appointed to serve on his behalf.
As the Circut Court of Cook County explains, a guardian ad litem is an attorney hired to protect the interests of a child. As a parent, you may request a GAL to be appointed during a custody hearing, a contentious divorce, or if you believe the child has been abused by a co-parent. A judge can also decide that a child's interests need to be separately represented, and order a GAL appointed. In Illinois, the parents are generally responsible for paying for a child's GAL, but a graduated payment system is available for families with limited financial resources.
GALs have a duty to act on behalf of the child for whom they are appointed, even though someone else is paying their fee. The GAL may interview your child, family members and others to determine your child's needs. The GAL will prepare a report that summarizes their observations and impressions of your child's circumstances. The GAL's report can include recommendations as to how the judge should determine issues of custody, visitation, parental support, and many other matters that will impact your child's health, safety and well-being. Unlike most attorneys, a GAL can be called upon to testify in court about his or her report and may be cross-examined by another party's attorney.
This post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.