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What Role Does a Guardian Ad Litem Play in a Child Custody Case?

Posted on in Family Law

Milwaukee child custody lawyerBy: Attorney Megan Drury

In divorce and family law cases, parents may need to address a variety of issues related to child custody. While there are some cases where parents may agree on how custody of their children will be handled, disputes often arise between parents, and it can be difficult to determine the best ways to resolve these issues. In some cases, a guardian ad litem may be appointed. Parents will need to understand the role this person will play in their case and the best steps they can take to protect their parental rights and ensure that they will be able to provide for their children’s best interests.

What Is a Guardian Ad Litem?

When parents disagree about how to handle child custody, it can be difficult for a judge to determine how to make decisions that will protect children’s best interests. The parents and their attorneys may make arguments based on their desires, their claims of what has happened in the past, and their individual beliefs about what is best for their children. However, evaluating the accuracy of parents’ claims, understanding the biases they bring to a case, and determining how emotions may color parents’ attitudes is not always easy. To more fully evaluate the situation, a judge may seek help from other parties.

While multiple different types of child custody evaluators or other outside experts may become involved in a family law case, a guardian ad litem will often play a crucial role in the decisions made by a judge. A guardian ad litem is an attorney who has received special training in child-related matters, and when they are appointed by the court, they will act as representatives of the children who will work to determine what is in the children’s best interests.

A guardian ad litem will perform an investigation into the circumstances of the case to gain a full understanding of the issues involved and the factors that may affect the children and the parents. They will usually conduct interviews with the parents, the children, and other parties who may be able to provide relevant information, such as teachers, counselors, medical providers, or extended family members. They may also visit the parents’ homes and observe them as they interact with the children. 

Based on the information uncovered, the guardian ad litem will make recommendations about how issues related to child custody and visitation should be handled. While the guardian ad litem may consider the children’s wishes regarding these matters, this will not be the sole deciding factor. Other issues considered may include the parents’ willingness to cooperate with each other, the ability of each parent to provide a safe and supportive environment for children, and any instances of domestic violence or abuse by either parent in the past. The judge will consider the guardian ad litem’s recommendations when determining how legal custody and physical placement will be allocated between the parents.

Contact Our Milwaukee, WI Child Custody Lawyers

If a guardian ad litem has been appointed in your family law case, or if you need to address other issues related to the custody of your children, Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can advise you on the best ways to proceed. We will provide you with legal representation to ensure that you will be able to protect your parental rights and properly address your children’s needs going forward. Contact our Milwuakee family law attorneys at 414-271-1440 to arrange a free consultation.

Sources:

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/767/v/407

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/767/v/41/5/am


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