You are involved in a custody case. A guardian ad litem (GAL) has been appointed to the case. How should you best deal with the GAL?
You must cooperate in all respects with the GAL. If the GAL asks you to sign release forms to obtain your medical and/or psychological records, sign it immediately. If the GAL makes appointments to meet with you, be there ahead of time. Come to the meeting prepared. Provide documents that you and your lawyer believe would be helpful to the GAL, such as text messages, emails, medical records, school transcripts. Return the GAL’s phone calls promptly. If the GAL wants to meet with you or your kids, do not delay.
Before your meetings with the GAL, review with your lawyer questions that the GAL may ask you. Such questions may include: what are your concerns about the other parent; what do you believe is in the children’s best interests in terms of custody and parenting time; what specific facts, documents, witnesses, events support your positions on custody and parenting time; why is it in the children’s best interests that your custody plan should be implemented?
The GAL may make surprise drop in visits to your house or apartment. Welcome the GAL into your place. Make sure your house is always neat and clean. Make sure there is plenty of healthy food in the refrigerator. No junk food. Make sure the children’s areas are well kept and child friendly.
The GAL will have many discussions with your children. Do not in any way coach the children about what to tell the GAL. The GAL will ask the kids what each parent told them about the GAL and the process. The GAL will ask the kids what each parent told them to tell to the GAL. Tell the kids that they should tell the truth to the GAL.
Be honest. Don’t’ be defensive. Don’t get on the GAL’s bad side. Remember, the GAL is not your friend or therapist. Do not get personal with him or her. Do not open up as you would to a friend or therapist. Realize the GAL will play an important, perhaps a critical, role in your custody case. The GAL’s recommendation on custody and parenting time will be given great weight by the Judge.