Date: June 3, 2021

By: Attorney Jean Butler

Exploring Guardian ad Litem

What is GAL?

To begin, GAL stands for Guardian ad Litem. In short, GALS are lawyers appointed to help with issues surrounding the children involved in a divorce case. GALS will conduct investigations to decide the best possible outcomes for children involved. A GAL will more than likely interview people who are close to your child. Therefore, family members, friends, teachers, or doctors may all be interviewed. After the conclusion of their investigation, GALS will send a summarized report of their findings to a judge.

GAL Process

Firstly, you will want to compile a list of appropriate people for the GAL to interview. Therefore, the list should include any person you believe has has a significant impact in your child’s life. However, it is important to know that a GAL may not interview everyone you asked them too. Secondly, you will want to create a list of documents for the GAL to summarize and review. In addition, be sure to organize your documents, so that they are easily accessible to the GAL. Thirdly, you should create a summary of what you believe should happen with your children. For example, you may want to make suggestions regarding designations for things like majority parent  or parenting time schedules. Include all important information you believe a GAL should know. Lastly, focus on the facts and circumstances which explain why your opinion is the right one.

GAL Investigation Process

A GAL will interview both parents involved in a case. These interviews will be done one on one with each parent, separate from each other. It is important for you to treat your first interview with the GAL like a job interview. Therefore, be sure to be on time and act respectful. A GALS main focus is what is best for the children. You may also ask the GAL if your children should be present for the interviews. The GAL will interview your children but may do so at a different time. In addition to explaining your point of view, it is vital you understand what the other parent is seeking. Most importantly, parents involved in this process must be transparent and truthful. 

GAL Investigation Process with

After the parents are interviewed, the GAL will interview the children. That being said, parents should be aware GALS are trained to identify when a child has been “coached up”. In the same vein, GALS frown upon this and it is in your best interest to avoid persuasion. Lastly, a judge will make the final decision on what is best for your child. Most importantly, parents should know that judges tend to put a lot of weight into a GALS investigation.