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?
As mentioned previously, a guardian ad litem (GAL) may be appointed by the court to represent your children and investigate you, the other parent, the children, and the home itself. The purpose of the GAL is to render an opinion on important matters such as whether the parties should have joint legal custody or sole legal custody, what the parenting schedule should be, whether you, the other parent, and/or the children should enter therapy, co-parenting counseling, substance abuse counseling, parenting classes, anger management classes.
In some custody cases, the court may appoint a Guardian Ad Litem or a GAL. The court has a list of trained GALs and will select a GAL from that list. A GAL is a lawyer who has gone through training to be a certified GAL. His or her job is two-fold: first, the GAL will represent the children's best interests; second, the GAL will be the eyes and ears of the court.
As mentioned, the evaluator will be observing you like a hawk throughout the evaluation.
If a custody evaluator is involved in your custody case, there are basic rules of conduct that you should follow during the process.
When a couple with children separate or seek divorce, there are a number of ways to determine how custody of the children will be decided. Custody means three things: (i) legal custody or decision making; (ii) physical custody or a schedule of when the children will be with either parents; and (iii) all other aspects of raising the children (such as, religion, education, medical, mental health issues). So, how do you deal with these issues if you and the other parent cannot agree?
If you are involved in a custody dispute in court, a person called a guardian ad litem (GAL) may enter your case. The Court can appoint a GAL on its own. One or both parties may request the court to appoint a GAL. The court will tend to appoint a GAL in cases where there are special concerns relating to the parents and/or the children.
You do not want to your divorce to be prolonged, expensive, time consuming, and emotionally devastating.
If you lose your job, the first thing you should do is to call your family law lawyer. Do not delay. Why? Because you may be able to file a motion with the court to reduce your support obligation. If you are successful in getting a court to reduce your support, your reduced support amount may be made retroactive to the date that you served the person receiving support with your motion. Therefore, you should file the motion as soon as possible so that you can have your reduced support payments made retroactive. Every day you wait to file the motion is one day more that you have to pay the current support amount.
If you are fired from your job, you can file a motion with the court asking to reduce your child support payments. Whether the court will reduce your child support depends, in part, on the reason why you were fired. If you were fired for cause or misconduct at your job, then the court may not reduce your child support. I will summarize a recent Virginia case where the court did not reduce the child support amount for a father who was fired from his job through his own negligence.