Can a Child Have an Attorney in Ohio?

happy child girl with a kite running on meadow in summer in nature

In Ohio, a child under the age of 18 cannot refuse to see a parent. However, the courts do have some leniency in listening to a child's preferences when determining visitation schedules. In any child custody case, Ohio law permits the judge to appoint a guardian ad litem, or GAL. The GAL is typically a lawyer who is tasked with looking out for the child's best interest. Understanding the function of the GAL helps parents know more about the court process for child custody.

Who Is the GAL?

A GAL is a person designated to represent the best interest of your child. They may or may not be an attorney for an older child and in non-abuse situations. In the case of young children or children who were abused or neglected by at least one parent, an attorney typically serves as the GAL. In a family with several children, one GAL represents all of them. Judges and magistrates have the authority to name a GAL in Ohio.

How Is the GAL Paid?

The court assigns a portion of a GAL's costs to each parent. These costs may be divided equally between both parents, or they may be assigned based on each parent's income. The parents are required to make an initial deposit for the GAL services. Monthly payments are assigned to each parent for the ongoing costs of GAL services. If a parent is unable to pay for the GAL because they have no income, the court may appoint the GAL at the taxpayer's expense.

What Are the Responsibilities of a GAL?

If the GAL is an attorney licensed to practice in Ohio, the judge may appoint this person to serve a dual role of GAL and attorney. The GAL has several responsibilities. They are to create a plan that lays out the child's best interests in a custody agreement. If these best interests go against the child's preferences, the GAL must report this to the court. The judge may require evidence from the GAL and related to the child's preferences. If the GAL acts as the child's attorney, they have additional responsibilities. This includes appearing in person at all court hearings related to the child custody case. They must also review all related documents, child assessments, and court filings.

Law Offices of William L. Geary is Here

Ohio's laws are designed to protect the interest of a child in a custody case. The appointment of a GAL is often reserved for divorce and child custody cases that go to trial and situations of domestic violence, neglect, and other types of abuse. If you have questions about the role played by the GAL in child custody, contact the Law Offices of William L. Geary today.