What is the role of a guardian ad litem in a divorce?

Some divorces move forward without a hitch. Others, though, become acrimonious and very complicated. When a particularly contentious divorce involves children, the court might decide to get a guardian ad litem involved. But what is a guardian ad litem, and what do they do?

Understanding guardians ad litem in Connecticut

A guardian ad litem (GAL) is a court-appointed attorney meant to protect the best interests of the child or children. In some divorces, the child’s best interests can be overlooked in the constant back-and-forth between parties. Instead of representing the mother or father, a guardian ad litem advocates for the child.

Some of their duties include:

  • Listening to both sides of the parents’ stories
  • Speaking with the child’s teachers, coaches and religious leaders
  • Reviewing the child’s medical records
  • Determining the wants and needs of the child
  • Making recommendations regarding custody to the court

Judges appoint a GAL if one of the parties in divorce requests it or the court determines that it is necessary. Typically, the court will appoint a GAL if parents in a custody dispute cannot come to a resolution or the battle has become especially acrimonious.

What can I expect if my case has a guardian ad litem?

It is not a bad thing for a court to appoint a guardian ad litem. It does not mean that the judge doubts your abilities as a parent. Think of a GAL as someone who can make sure your child has a voice. They avoid conflicts of interest, remain impartial and put your child’s best interests first. You also have the right to petition the court to remove the guardian ad litem if you believe they have not acted fairly.