Guardian Ad Litem: what are they?
A Guardian Ad Litem, also known as GAL, is someone designated by a Judge to investigate and represent the best interests of a child. The court, if it determines that the minor’s interests are inadequately represented, may appoint a lawyer– GAL MCL 722.24(2). The role of the lawyer–GAL is to represent the minor and advocate for his or her wishes. The lawyer–GAL may file a written recommendation and report. The report may also be used for a settlement conference. MCL 722.24(3).
Guardian Ad Litem: When are they appointed?
In high-conflict custody or parenting time disputes, the parties may need to consider engaging a Guardian Ad Litem. In a case involving a dispute regarding the custody of a minor child, the court may, on motion of a party or on its own initiative, for good cause shown, appoint a GAL to represent the child and assess the costs and reasonable fees against the parties involved in full or in part. MCR 3.204 (D)
Guardian Ad Litem: Purpose
The Guardian Ad Litem shall investigate the background of the case, gather information regarding the child’s status, provide written reports to the court and all parties before each hearing, and appear at all hearings when required by the court. MCR 3.917 C The role of a GAL is dependent on the Judge’s order and what the Judge wants them to do. The GAL will often talk to the child, parents, and other caregivers. They may also speak with counselors, teachers, other family members, friends, court services, and child protection workers.
A GAL shall be guided by the best interests of the child and shall exercise independent judgment on behalf of the child in all relevant matters. The GAL does not represent either parent but instead represent the child. The GAL conducts an independent investigation for the purpose of reporting to the Court and making recommendations about custody and visitation.
Please keep in mind your specific situation may be somewhat different from the norm. The information provided in this article is a guide to the basics of a Guardian Ad Litem. Please call, 734.927.9782, and speak with a Robert J. Stelmock at Stelmock Law Firm, PC to discuss your matter. Robert J. Stelmock has been appointed as a GAL by various Judges in high conflict family law matters. Stelmock Law Firm, PC represent clients in the Metro Detroit area (Canton, Plymouth, Northville, Livonia, Westland, Ann Arbor, Novi) and throughout Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Livingston counties. The firm’s office is located at 8556 N. Canton Center Road, Canton, Michigan 48187.