Columbus Guardian Ad Litem Attorneys
What Is a GAL?
A guardian ad litem (GAL) is appointed to assist in juvenile and domestic court cases. The duty of the GAL is to represent to the court what is in the minor child’s best interest. In juvenile cases, the court pays the fees of the GAL. However, in domestic cases, the court will assign a percentage of the GAL’s fees to each party, allocating them equally or based on the parties’ incomes. An initial deposit is made by both parties to the GAL, and thereafter the GAL sends monthly invoices to inform the parties of the additional funds required.
A GAL may be requested by either party, or the court on its own initiative may appoint a GAL to be assigned to the case. It is important to note that the appointment of a GAL is a court order, so non-compliance and cooperation with the GAL could lead to being held in contempt of court.
What the GAL Does
After the initial meeting with the GAL, you can expect the GAL to make a home visit in order to determine if your home is suitable for the child to reside within. Further, the GAL will be looking to see how you and the child interact with one another. The GAL may also converse with the child to determine what the child’s wishes may be and if they have any concerns regarding their current living arrangements.
The GAL is able to:
- Review court records
- Request records regarding the child
- Speak to witnesses
- Gather any additional information that may be necessary for his/her investigation
The GAL may also submit motions to the court and request mental health and other evaluations if the need arises.
In juvenile cases, the GAL is often appointed in a dual capacity to serve as both the GAL and the child’s attorney. If at any point during the case, the child’s wishes differ from the GAL’s recommendation of what is in the child’s best interests, the GAL has a conflict of interest. In that case, the GAL becomes only the child’s attorney, and a new GAL is appointed to the case.
Once the GAL has completed the investigation, they will submit a report to the court to recommend what they find to be in the best interest of the minor child. Although this report does not control the outcome of the case, the court will strongly consider what the GAL recommends.
Contact Us for Help with Guardian Ad Litem Needs
Contact us today to schedule a detailed assessment of your current legal position and to discuss a strategy for securing the best interests of your children with an experienced guardian ad litem attorney in Columbus. We are available to help you by phone at (614) 289-1227.
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