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Does My Child Need a Guardian Ad Litem in My Illinois Divorce?

 Posted on July 10, 2024 in Divorce

Arlington Heights, IL family lawyerThe divorce process often comes with many challenges, though it can become more challenging when a child is involved. Parents may argue over child support, decision-making responsibilities, and physical custody, also known as parenting time. These are in addition to other disputes that arise during divorce, like alimony and property division.

Throughout all this, the interests of the child can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. This is especially true if the parents become caught up in hostility toward each other and forget to focus on their child’s well-being.

In such cases, a court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child in the divorce process. A guardian ad litem, which is Latin for "guardian for the case," is an Illinois family law attorney who is certified to advocate for children in court. He or she is a neutral party appointed by the judge.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?

The job of a guardian ad litem is to ensure the child’s interests are protected during the divorce. This does not mean fulfilling the child’s wishes, but rather making sure the child’s needs will be met. To determine what those needs are, a guardian ad litem will do the following:

  • Conduct face-to-face interviews with the child 

  • Conduct face-to-face interviews with the parents or caregivers

  • Interview family members as necessary

  • Review the child’s history, including academic performance

  • Review any significant reports concerning the child, such as instances of abuse or neglect

  • Request any other documentation or materials regarding the child if necessary

Based on the above information, the guardian ad litem will write a recommendation and submit it to the court. The court is not obligated to abide by the guardian ad litem’s suggestions, but it is likely to do so.

Does My Child Need a Guardian Ad Litem?

A court will appoint a guardian ad litem if the judge feels it necessary, but it may also appoint one if a parent requests it. Discuss with your attorney whether your child needs a guardian ad litem.

Here are some examples of cases when a guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent a child:

  • When the parents have disabilities, physical or mental, that may affect their ability to care for the child

  • When the parents disagree about the child’s medical or educational needs

  • When the parents disagree about the child’s religious upbringing

  • When the child has special needs

  • When there are concerns about at least one of the parents abusing alcohol or substances

  • When there is a history of abuse or neglect

Contact an Arlington Heights, IL Family Law Attorney

At A. Traub & Associates, our experienced attorneys will aggressively protect your child’s interests and ensure your child’s voice is heard during the divorce process. If your child needs a guardian ad litem, we can petition the court to appoint one. Call 847-749-4182 to speak with a skilled Arlington Heights, IL family lawyer today.

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