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Category: Guardian Ad Litem

The Role of a Guardian ad Litem in Chicago Family Law Cases

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Written by Jessica Mansbacher Kibbe on 4.16.24

It is inevitable that certain family law matters will directly impact minor children. Issues of who should have parenting time, and when, and who should make decisions regarding minor children, and how, are just some examples. When emotions run high and conflicts escalate swiftly, it is not always possible for parents to come to agreement on these matters, and the children can get caught in the middle. That is where the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) comes in. A Guardian ad Litem is a professional who is appointed by the court to ensure that the best interests of the minor children involved in the dispute are being looked after.

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

In Chicago family law cases, a GAL is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the minor child or children involved. Such cases include proceedings involving:

  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Visitation
  • Allocation of parental responsibilities
  • Education
  • Parentage
  • Property interest
  • General welfare of a minor or dependent child

The primary responsibility of the GAL is to conduct thorough investigations and assessments to provide the court with recommendations regarding parenting time agreements, visitation, the allocation of parental decision-making, and other matters affecting the children’s welfare. A GAL delves into the intricacies of the familial dynamics at play, puts together an informed recommendation on the issues, and ensures that the court is well-informed.

Understanding the Law in Illinois

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) addresses the role of GALs in family law cases. Specifically, Section 506 of the IMDMA outlines the appointment and duties of GALs.

Under Section 506 of the IMDMA, 750 ILCS 5/506, a GAL may be appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the children involved in a family law case, particularly in matters involving the allocation of parental responsibilities – parenting time and parental decision-making.

Additinally, Section 506 of the IMDMA outlines the duties of GALs, which include conducting investigations, gathering relevant information, interviewing parties involved in the case, and making recommendations to the court based on the best interests of the child.

The GAL’s Investigative Process

Once appointed, a GAL embarks on a comprehensive investigative process. This may involve interviews with the children, parents, and other relevant parties, as well as home visits, observation of family interactions, and review of pertinent documentation such as school records and medical reports. The goal is to gain insight into the family dynamics, the needs and preferences of the children, and any factors that may impact their well-being.

Advocacy and Recommendations

Armed with the information gathered during their investigation, the GAL becomes a staunch advocate for the children’s best interests. They present their findings and recommendations to the court, often in the form of written reports or testimony. These recommendations may cover various aspects of the case, including parenting plans, parental responsibilities, and the need for additional support services or interventions.

The Impact of GALs on Chicago Family Law Cases

The presence of a GAL can significantly influence the outcome of a family law case in Chicago. Their thorough investigations, informed recommendations, and advocacy efforts provide invaluable guidance to the court in making decisions that are in the best interests of the children.

Reach out to Compassionate and Skilled Family Law Attorneys

With their unwavering commitment to the best interests of the child, Guardians ad Litem play a pivotal role in shaping the outcomes of family law cases and ensuring that the voices of the most vulnerable are heard. Olivia St. Clair Long is a seasoned Guardian ad Litem who has made a positive impact on the lives of many. If you are going through a divorce or parentage dispute and you think you might benefit from the involvement of a GAL, reach out to O. Long Law, LLC, today.

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