The court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) during a divorce or family law case. This trained person typically investigates high-conflict situations and reports their findings and recommendations to the court about what is in the best interests of the child (or children). There are also times when one or both parents may request a GAL to be appointed. Someone may ask for one because they are accusing their former spouse of domestic violence, substance abuse, or a mental health issue.
Imagine a scenario where one person has one of the conditions mentioned above yet maintains the position that they should be the primary physical custodian of the child. The other spouse may request the guardian ad litem to investigate the accusations they are asserting. If confirmed, the court could have a clearer view of the family dynamic. There are also scenarios where both spouses make accusations about each other. The court may assign a guardian ad litem to break through the wall of “he said, she said” to discover what is happening inside the family.
How a GAL Investigates
Anyone who is in the position outlined above may be under an extreme amount of stress. They worry their child could live with an unfit parent. Even after hearing about the option of requesting a GAL to resolve this issue, you may still have concerns regarding how they investigate. They conduct independent investigations. During this time, they will likely do the following:
- Review existing records and documentation
- Conduct interviews
- Conduct a home visit
- Compile a detailed report for the court
The GAL works towards:
- Identifying the type of relationship each parent has with the child
- Characterizing the kind of relationship the parents have with one another
- Finding out if the child has special needs and whether they are being met
You may also be interviewed or visited several times during this process. For instance, it is more than likely that the GAL will meet with both parents individually at the beginning of the case. They will also follow up with another visit to observe your relationship with the child. There could be additional visits, questions, and interviews to verify something they saw before or to ask about additional issues that have surfaced.
The need for a GAL to step in and investigate during your family law matter is one example of how a divorce can become contested. At Akiona Law, we foster a client-focused atmosphere to support and assist you during this challenging time in your life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can help.