Highly disputed custody cases require a delicate touch on the part of the court. Maintaining order while making necessary determinations must be balanced with ensuring that the best interests of the child are met in the end.
One way this is accomplished in many custody cases is the inclusion of a guardian ad litem (GAL). Many, however, do not know what GALs are or what they do.
Who Are They?
GALs are court-appointed neutral parties that are used to investigate and determine the best interests of the child involved in the case. These individuals are not to be confused with a legal guardian, as GALs do not have any control over a child’s housing or overall well-being.
The GAL is the only person whose sole job is to learn the child’s best interests and communicate said interests with the court. In a sense, the GAL is the assigned advocate for the child, communicating with the court when a child cannot or is scared to.
What Do They Do?
Since a GAL’s sole purpose is to ensure that a child’s best interests are both communicated and held to, a GAL will typically gather as much information as possible from multiple sources, including the child. A GAL will gather records from places such as doctor’s offices and schools, as well as any social worker if one has been involved.
A GAL will often sit in meetings with officials and make recommendations based upon findings and will work to ensure that the child’s best interests are communicated. A GAL does not, however, make the final decisions on custody; a GAL will only communicate a recommendation with the judge
A GAL must also ensure confidentiality of all information and monitor the child throughout the court proceedings to ensure his or her best interests are maintained.
Seek Help in Custody Cases
Trying to handle a custody case while ensuring your child’s best interests are maintained is difficult and almost impossible to do on your own. Hiring a qualified professional to oversee your custody case removes a portion of the burden off your shoulders.
Johnson / Turner Legal has the experienced attorneys needed to handle a custody case. Contact us today at (320) 299-4249 or visit our website to schedule a consultation with a member of our Minnesota legal team.