Why Is A GAL Involved In My Child Custody Case?
People usually understand that when they are going through a divorce, each side will have an attorney representing their best interests. However, many people do not realize that when their divorce case involves children, a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) may also be assigned to their case. The courts will assign a GAL to a case if there is uncertainty about whether other parties involved can adequately represent the legal rights of others who are affected by the court’s decision. Below, our Franklin child custody attorney explains things you need to know if a GAL has been appointed to your case.
When Will the Court Appoint a GAL in a Case?
The courts will appoint a GAL any time an individual needs someone to represent their rights in court because they cannot do so on their own. GALs are usually appointed to a case when a child is allegedly neglected or abused, or when a child is available for adoption. If a legal case involves an elder individual who may not have the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, the court may also assign a GAL to the case. In most cases though, GALs are used to represent children.
Under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 40, the role of a GAL is to advocate for the best interests of the child and to make sure the concerns and preferences of the child are heard by the court.
What Does a GAL Investigate?
GALs do conduct investigations in an effort to accurately report back to the court on the child’s needs and interests. During their investigation, a GAL will form a professional opinion about the following:
- Whether the basic needs of the child are being met
- Whether the child’s emotional needs are being met
- The child’s needs for familial connections
- The social needs of the child
- The educational needs of the child
- If the child has a dependency or vulnerability on others
- Any degree of risk the child faces
- The need of the child for a stable placement
- The developmental level and age of the child
- The preference of the child to live with a certain person, avoid moving, and to continue on with their current activities
- The affection, love, and existing emotional ties between the child and any potential caregivers
- The community record, school, and home record of the child
- The ability and willingness of the parties to continue relationships between the child and any other significant person in their life
Our Child Custody Attorney in Franklin Can Work with Your GAL
If you have a child custody dispute and a GAL has been assigned to your case, it is important that your Franklin child custody attorney maintains a good relationship with them. At Beal, Nations & Crutcher, our seasoned attorneys will always make sure your GAL has all the necessary documents they need so you have the best chance of a positive outcome. Call us now at 615-861-2304 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.