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Should I Be Worried if a Guardian ad Litem is Involved in My Child Custody Case?

 Posted on October 07, 2022 in Family Law

Kane County child custody lawyerAs a parent, it can be worrying to learn that a guardian ad litem has been appointed for your children during custody proceedings, incident to a divorce or otherwise. The term “guardian” carries connotations that can be concerning for parents, but rest assured that guardians ad litem are a perfectly normal part of a custody case. When it begins to appear that a dispute regarding the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities is likely to be litigated, courts frequently bring in a guardian ad litem to help the court understand what type of arrangement is likely to be best for the children. 

In Illinois, all concerns regarding child custody are to be resolved in the best interests of the children. It can be difficult for a court to discern the children’s needs and wishes without an investigation by a guardian ad litem, as children, particularly young ones, are not able to speak for themselves in court as an adult could. If you expect that your child custody dispute will need to be resolved judicially and a guardian ad litem is involved, it is critical that you are represented by an experienced attorney. 

Understanding the Role of a Guardian ad Litem

The duty of the guardian ad litem is to conduct an investigation into the children’s or child’s best interests. There is an enumerated list of factors that courts must consider in making decisions regarding the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities. A guardian ad litem is familiar with these factors and will investigate accordingly. 

In performing their role, the guardian ad litem is likely to speak with each of your children individually. Children are more likely to be genuine in a one-on-one conversation with a trained guardian ad litem, and more reserved or disingenuous when in a courtroom speaking to a judge directly. Remember that this is not an investigation into your skill as a parent. Rather, it is an investigation into the needs of your children. The guardian ad litem will likely ask your children about their school and extracurricular activities, their neighborhood, and other factors, as well as examine relevant documents like grade reports and medical histories. 

It can be tempting to “coach” your children by instructing them on what to say to the guardian ad litem. However, attempts to do so are frequently transparent, and will reflect poorly on you, as it may appear that you are attempting to manipulate the situation. 

After completing their investigation, the guardian ad litem reports their findings to the judge to help the judge understand the child’s perspective and needs. The judge will use the information provided by the guardian ad litem in making a determination of the child’s best interests. 

Call a Kane County Child Custody Lawyer

Serrano Hanson is skilled in working with parents and children alike during the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities. Our experienced Geneva child custody attorneys will strive to protect your interests as well as your children’s in every step of the process. Call 630-844-8781 for a consultation. 



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