In some child custody cases, a court can decide that a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) would be appropriate to help determine what is in the best interest of the child. A GAL is a person appointed to represent a child’s best interest. The GAL doesn’t represent the child or any of the party’s but instead is there to represent what the GAL believes is the best interest of the child.
To determine the child’s best interest the GAL will generally take the following steps:
1. Try to elicit from the child, the child’s expressed objectives;
2. Interview relevant people;
3. Encourage settlement using mediation or other methods;
4. Perform any duties, as directed by the court;
5. Review copies of the child’s medical, psychological, and school records; and
6. Submit a report and testify about her recommendations and the reasons for those recommendations.
A GAL can make any recommendations that he or she feels is in the child’s best interest even if that recommendation is not what the child wants, or different than what either parent is asking for. GAL’s can be an important asset to the court since the GAL can meet with the child informally and can provide another third party view of what would be best for the child.
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