If you find yourself in a contentious custody matter, might the appointment of a Guardian Ad-Litem benefit you and your children? 

Often times in a divorce involving children, the issues most at the heart of settlement involve who will have custody of the children.  Parents have been accustomed to living with their children throughout the duration of their lives up to that point in time.  Now, the parents will have two households and the children will be dividing their time between each parent.  Often, each parent believes it is best for their children to primarily live with them.  If an agreement cannot be reached, it is worth considering the appointment of a Guardian Ad-Litem to make recommendations to the Court on custody matters involving the children. 

Parents typically know their children better than anybody else, and if they have a dispute that requires a Judge to decide, often that Judge will know the least of the family dynamic.  Appointing a Guardian Ad-Litem allows the parents to have a third-party expert in child custody matters who will discuss matters with the parents and children, help the family make decisions, and ultimately provide a recommendation to the Judge.  Why is this beneficial? 

The Guardian Ad-Litem will be able to speak with the children in a one-on-one setting and avoid having the children testify in open court on in a Judge’s chambers.  It will allow children the opportunity to speak freely and not in fear of either parent. 

The Guardian Ad-Litem will also be afforded the opportunity to speak to people who have been involved in the children’s lives – the parents obviously, but also school personnel, any counselors or therapists, and other family and friends who may be able to provide insight. 

It is this opportunity that the Guardian Ad-Litem has to really get to know the family dynamic and speak to the children openly and honestly to make informed recommendations to the Court.  Appointing the Guardian Ad-Litem also gives the parents room to decompress and allow the Guardian Ad-Litem to do his work and make recommendations.  It often can allow the divorce process room to let emotions settle down and make the final divorce much more amicable, which ultimately benefits the children. 

In my line of work, I serve as a Guardian Ad-Litem throughout Indiana and Michigan.  I also recommend that my clients request a Guardian Ad-Litem be appointed when a custody matter may end up being contentious and the parents cannot agree.  While the cost of a Guardian Ad-Litem is often split between the parents, in the end it can often save money from costly court battles. 

Any parent ultimately wants the best for their children, and through the difficult process of divorce, what is best for the children can appear cloudy and uncertain.  Hiring a Guardian Ad-Litem can help alleviate a multitude of issues and ultimately not only be in the children’s best interest, but so to in the best interest of all parties. 

This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.