In this article, you will discover:
- How a guardian ad litem’s recommendation is handled by the court
- What to do if you are not satisfied with the GAL’s recommendation
While the court does not have to, it will most likely heed the GAL’s recommendation. That’s why I think that picking the guardian ad litem is the single most critical part of your custody battle. If you spend $3000 on any part of the case, it needs to be spent right there because the GAL is so crucially influential. The court doesn’t have to appoint a guardian ad litem or recognize it, but typically, that will happen. If you don’t like the guardian ad litem’s recommendations, what do you do? Well, you call that GAL as a witness at the trial, and you try to attack their report and their credibility.
The way you most likely do that is you draw attention to the investigative mechanisms. Did they look at this page of the medical report? Interesting, why not? Did you talk to this person? Why not? Did you speak to this person? Oh, you did. What did you think about it? So, you are trying to attack that investigative process because if the investigation is flawed or its foundation was weak, then the recommendations emanating therefrom, presumably also are weak. Then try to show some bias or some impartiality on the part of the GAL to attack the suggestions, but it’s tough.
Because this person is so influential, so powerful, I share techniques with my clients on how to talk with a GAL and how to interact with the GAL. You want to do everything that the GAL asks you to do. You don’t question it; you just do it and say yes, ma’am, yes sir. You need to be an angel with that GAL. If you can’t act friendly with the one person holding the custody of your child in the balance, you are not going to get it. If you are rude or mean, you aren’t going to win. If you seem defensive, like you are hiding something, the GAL will sniff it out. So, ideally, the GAL is objective, but in reality, they are not, especially if you are rude to that GAL. If you start badmouthing the other parent, the GAL will get a bad representation of you.
That will end up hurting you more than it does the other parent. There are ways, and I coach my clients on how, to bring these issues things up. Yes, of course, there might be concerns that, let’s say the other parent, when you were married or when you were living with the parent got drunk every night, drank eight beers every night, and passed out on the couch. Every morning you have to wake him up and get him out from the living room before the kids came back because you were just too embarrassed for them to see him. That’s a concern, and that speaks to whether or not his alcoholism is going to impair his ability to rear the children or not. I would encourage the client to bring this up with the GAL in a concerned way. For example, “I’m worried about whether John will be able to get the kids ready for school in the morning… when we were together he would be passed out all through the morning from drinking the night before. What do you think Ms. GAL?”
I’m a GAL in many cases, and I’m not too fond of it when the parents bicker with each other or try to undermine the other parent. It really rubs me the wrong way, and I try to be incredibly objective, and if I struggle with that, I’m sure the other GALs also struggle with it.
Instead, if a parent seems to know what will benefit the child and is trying to act in their best interest, that means a lot to me. I’m going to be inclined to award that parent the benefit of the doubt in many cases.. In those instances, I hang my hat on a specific factor in the custody statute. That factor is the willingness of one parent to facilitate and a foster a close relationship with the other parent. Imagine when the GAL can say all those other factors were an issue against this parent, but he was the only parent who appeared to have any concern with making sure everybody is involved in that kid’s life…? That’s going to look pretty good to a judge. That’s going to be pretty heavy in weighing well for the parent before the judge at that point.
Does the court have to follow the guardian ad litem’s recommendation? The answer is no. However, 99% of the time, it’s going to happen. You can try to fight them by calling the GAL as a witness and attacking the investigative process citing flaws, missed documents, clues, if you will, along with attacking the GAL’s credibility, and that’s really all you can do at that point. Even then, it’s going to be a tough fight, so rather than wait until you get the recommendations, instead get a good GAL who is going to be partial to you. Once you’ve worked with enough GALs like our firm has, we know who is a little bit favorable.
You need to know, or you need to hire attorneys who knows those GALs and who will get them appointed for you because it really can play a factor. We know which GALs will be best for which particular cases we have out there. If there are alcohol problems, we know who will be a fan of the AA process versus the GAL who will not have any remorse or forgiveness for an alcoholic and is concerned about abuse. Suppose there is domestic violence. We know GALs who have seen the rehabilitation of an abuser who can have a good relationship with their kids thereafter. Then we have the GALs who, on the other hand, are not. They’ve seen the abuser go on to harm the kids after the divorce. So, that’s the GAL that will be against the alleged abuser, so you need to have those things in place to play the role when meeting your GAL.
For more information on Guardian Ad Litem’s Recommendations, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you seek by calling (312) 779-0098 today.
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