APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL) IN ILLINOIS
A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an attorney appointed by the judge to represent the minor children in a parentage case. When both parents have a disagreement regarding custody, visitation, or if there are questions as to the safety of the child being around either parent, a judge may choose to appoint a GAL to further examine the situation. The role of the GAL is to evaluate the relationship and circumstances among the children and parents, and make recommendations to the judge as to what would be in the best interests of the children. After meeting with the parents, the children, and conducting investigations as necessary, the GAL will report back to the judge and either submit a written report or testify at trial. The GAL may testify as a witness on cross-examination and can fully participate in pre-trial discovery and at trial.
In considering the best interests of the child in relation to custody, the GAL will review the following factors: the wishes of the child and child’s parents as to the custody arrangement; the relationships of the child with his or her siblings, parents, and other persons; the child’s adjustment to his or her surroundings; the mental and physical state of the parents and children; whether each parent is facilitating a relationship between the child and the other parent; and whether there is abuse or violence.
In Illinois there is no statutory requirement for GAL, Guardian ad Litem, to be appointed, unless the court finds that there is a potential conflict between the child’s interests and a parent’s interests. Therefore, Illinois courts, including Will county courts, will be obligated to appoint a GAL only if there is a finding of a potential conflict between the child’s interests and a parent’s interests. This does not mean, however, that the court cannot appoint the GAL. Pursuant to 750 ILCS 5/506 (a), the court “may appoint” a GAL in family law cases. Therefore, the appointment of the GAL is a matter of discretion for the family law court.
In contrast to the attorney for the child or child representative, GAL is not obligated to keep confidential information that he/she learned from the child, parents, or others during the investigation. The only exception to this rule is information about mental health and drug and alcohol treatment, as confidentiality of such information is protected by State and Federal statutes.
The information on this site is not legal advice. Retain an attorney licensed in the state which has jurisdiction over your matter before taking any action which affects your legal issues, legal marital status or custody arrangements, and follow the advice of your retained lawyer.