The guardian ad litem (GAL) is a person appointed by the court to solely represent a person’s interests. The services of a GAL are frequently associated with being the representative of a minor in a family law case.
GALs, often sometimes referred to as parenting investigators, are brought in by the court to take a close look at a minor child’s circumstances. Occasionally, parents may begin this process, but the court must authorize the appointment of a GAL and who will pay for them.
What kinds of family law cases require GALs?
GALs can investigate the circumstances of virtually any kind of family law situation involving children. Often, they are specifically concerned with:
- Basic safety precautions
- Emotional well-being
- Living conditions
But this can be in any context, from a highly contentious divorce to concrete concerns about the child’s safety.
Are GALs attorneys?
In many cases, those licensed as GALs in Pierce County and around Washington are attorneys, but not necessarily. If a GAL is appointed in your case and happens to be an attorney, keep in mind, they are not your attorney.
Does a GAL take sides?
They are only concerned with the care and needs of the child. Even if the court appoints a GAL because of a request you made, they are not on your side. They are meant to be impartial advocates for the child in all cases. Their findings and final report should reflect that.
Ultimately, the report from the GAL will be another piece of evidence and a guiding document that will aid in creating your parenting plan.
How should I react to a GAL assigned to my case?
The state is clear that a GAL is not meant to be the “enemy” in any given case. You may still have reservations about the process despite that. You should speak with your attorney about the Guardian Ad Litem process to find out what you should and should not do during this time.