When Is Child Representation Needed In a Family Law Case?

Aurora divorce lawyer GAL child representativeAlmost anything that happens in the Illinois legal system that has to do with children revolves around what is in the child’s best interests. In the majority of divorce cases, at least one, but sometimes both of the parents, understand what would be in the child’s best interest. In some divorce cases, parents can become so blind with hate that the best interests of the child are lost, which is when a child representative steps in. Cases involving child support, the allocation of parental responsibilities, parentage, allocation of parenting time, relocation with the child, or even just the child’s general welfare can all be assigned representation for the child.

Types of Representation

The state of Illinois provides for three options when it comes to the representation of the child:

  • An attorney for the child

  • A guardian ad litem

  • A child representative

Each option is slightly different and can be requested by either parent, either parent’s attorney, or the judge. Typically, a judge will order representation for the child if the parents are highly combative or if the parents have attempted to resolve their issues but have been unsuccessful.

Attorney

If an attorney for your child is appointed, that person is a trained lawyer who will provide your child with independent counsel. An attorney for the child is held to the same standards as an attorney for the parents. The attorney for the child owes the child the same loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation as does an attorney for the parents.

Guardian Ad Litem

A guardian ad litem (GAL) plays a slightly different role than that of an attorney. The GAL’s job is to conduct a thorough investigation of the situation in order to fully understand the complexities and challenges faced in the case. The GAL will conduct home studies, in-office studies, interviews, and more to gather enough information to compile into a report on what he or she believes is the best course of action for the child’s best interests.

Child Representative

The child representative is similar to the GAL, but there are a few key differences. The child representative is an advocate for the child, but unlike a GAL, he or she does not submit a report to the court and cannot be called as a witness. The child representative’s job is to conduct an investigation, like the guardian ad litem, so he or she can make sure the child’s best interests are heard while in court. They will offer “evidence-based legal arguments” as to what is in the child’s best interests. During pretrial memorandums, the child representative can file motions that will affect the course of the case, including motions to establish or modify temporary parenting time and decision-making responsibilities.

Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney

Having a representative for your child during your divorce case can be intimidating. At the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., we have handled dozens of cases over the years that have dealt with the use of representatives for the children. If your spouse or judge has declared that you need a representative for your child’s best interests, you need to immediately call a skilled Aurora, IL divorce lawyer who can help you with your case. Call our office today at 630-409-8184 to schedule a consultation.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59

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