Guardians ad Litem
If you are involved in a contentious divorce, and there are children who must be considered, you may encounter a need for a Guardian Ad Litem. Guardian Ad Litems are professionals who act as third parties in divorce proceedings and represent the best interests of the child or children involved in the divorce. While you may view a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) as an ally in your divorce, the reality is that GALs do not give preference to either parent during a divorce. Instead, they help to advise the court on what is best for the child in terms of custody and support. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, our Milwaukee family law attorneys can help you better understand the role that a Wisconsin GAL will play in your divorce and how to work with a GAL effectively to protect your interests and the interests of your children.Who Are Guardians Ad Litem And Why Are They Involved in My Divorce?
GALs are lawyers in Wisconsin and are professionals trained to assist the court when there are complex and contentious issues related to custody after a divorce. GALs are responsible for independently investigating the home life of a child, the impact of a divorce, and what the child most wants or what is in their best interests. GALs are appointed by the court during a divorce and will typically be involved in the divorce proceedings from that point forward, including divorce negotiations as well as child support and spousal maintenance proceedings.
GALs are often appointed when parties are unable to resolve child custody issues in a divorce. Since custody issues can become deeply personal to each parent, a GAL acts as an independent third voice who represents the best interests of the child, without consideration for the interests of the parents. After completing a thorough investigation, GALs will typically make their own report to the court about what they believe should happen in a divorce to protect the child, such as where the child should live or who should have legal custody.
Importantly, Wisconsin courts will often take recommendations from the parties as to who should be appointed as a GAL. Thus, an experienced family law attorney should be able to provide you with names of recommended GALs who they believe will uphold the strict standards of the position.What Do GALs Do?
GALs investigate your current family situation, family dynamics, home environment, and any other factors pertinent to determining which custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the child. This can be as simple as being a part of ongoing custody settlement talks, or it can be as complicated as interviewing family members, requesting documents, lining up experts, and even coordinating a hearing to present evidence regarding the best interests of the child. In the event that the parents reach a tentative agreement on custody or placement, GALs may also weigh in with their thoughts on these proposed agreements. GALs consider a wide variety of factors before reaching a recommendation on custody or placement. This can include the interests of the parents, the history of the child’s relationship with each parent, any past instances of violence or abuse, the child’s ability to adjust to the home, school, and environment where a parent resides, the health of the parents, and each parent’s ability to be cooperative and communicative.
During the course of their investigation, a GAL will likely meet with your former spouse and you to discuss the divorce and your child. They may also meet with your child on multiple occasions to get a better sense of the child’s interests. While GALs represent a child’s best interests, which is not always the same as what a child wants, they generally consider the requests of the child in reaching an ultimate recommendation.Contact a Knowledgeable Milwaukee Attorney During a Divorce Proceeding
Having a Guardian Ad Litem involved in your divorce can initially seem intimidating and confusing, and it may appear that the decision of what is best for your child is being taken out of your hands and placed with a stranger. It is important to remember that a GAL’s duty is to work for what is best for your child and to help further their happiness and success down the road. If you have recently found out that a GAL has been appointed in your case or that an appointment is being considered, the Milwaukee attorneys at Reddin & Singer, LLP can help assuage your concerns and answer any questions that you may have. For a free appointment, contact our office online or at (414) 271-6400. We represent people who need a child custody lawyer or assistance with other family law matters in Milwaukee, Port Washington, Racine, West Bend, Waukesha, and other areas of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington, and Waukesha Counties.