The Role a Guardian Ad Litem Plays Is Significant
In child custody cases in Minnesota, there are instances where it becomes necessary to involve an expert who can meet with all parties involved, including the children, and provide recommendations to the court. This expert is known as a guardian ad litem. Here’s what you should know:
A Guardian Ad Litem Is an Advocate for the Child
A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an advocate for a child involved in a family law matter. They may be appointed in certain divorce or child custody cases, especially when one of the parties expresses concern for the child’s safety. Guardians ad litem are mandatory in some cases, like when an adult’s actions place a child in need of protection or services (CHIPS).
Guardians ad litem plays a crucial role in the legal system, dedicated to thoroughly investigating, closely monitoring, and passionately advocating for the best interests of the child throughout the entire legal process. Their expertise and commitment ensure that every decision regarding child custody and parenting time is carefully considered and based on comprehensive recommendations. By actively engaging with all parties involved, guardians ad litem provide invaluable insights that aim to create a safe and nurturing environment for the child’s growth and development.
Guardians Ad Litem Follow Certain Rules of Procedure
The state of Minnesota has established rules of procedure for family court proceedings involving guardians ad litem. Once appointed, your guardian ad litem will follow these rules of procedure while conducting an independent investigation to determine relevant facts about your family.
The GAL’s investigation may have several parts. It’s common for the GAL to observe the child with their parents and other significant people in their lives. The GAL may conduct interviews with the parents involved, the child, other caregivers, and close family relations. They may also seek out professionals who have worked with the child, from teachers and therapists to the child’s pediatrician.
The esteemed Guardian Ad Litem, who is appointed to represent the best interests of those involved in a case, goes above and beyond by meticulously reviewing all pertinent records. Their thorough investigation encompasses various sources of information, such as comprehensive school records, social services, or police reports that provide crucial insights, intricate medical records that shed light on the well-being of individuals involved, as well as essential court documents and any other relevant details that are instrumental in making informed decisions.
Guardians Ad Litem Don’t Make Decisions, Just Recommendations
The GAL isn’t a judge. They don’t have the power to grant or deny you custody or order that the other parent be removed from the child’s life. Instead, they make recommendations. The judge hears these recommendations and considers them in addition to other evidence in your case. The judge then makes the ultimate decision about what the outcome will be.
While this is an important distinction, it’s critical to know that the guardian ad litem’s recommendations often carry significant weight in court proceedings. In many cases, judges give more weight to the reports of these experts than to testimony from the child’s parents. That’s why you should take your interactions with the guardian ad litem seriously and put your best foot forward.
Get Child Custody Help From Our Experienced Attorneys
At White & Associates, we offer free consultations to all new clients. Call our Elk River, Minnesota law office at 763-241-0477 or contact our child custody lawyers online. We understand the gravity of your situation and are here to offer our unwavering support. Our highly skilled team will not only schedule a time to discuss your unique circumstances but will also provide you with expert guidance throughout the intricate process of child custody and family law matters.