If divorcing parents are unable to work together regarding child custody and visitation arrangements (aka parenting time), the case may go to court in order to find a resolution that serves the child’s best interests.
Although parents presumably know what is best for their child, they may lack objectivity in a contentious divorce so a judge may ask for input from other parties to determine the best custody and visitation terms.
Additional players in child custody litigation may include a child custody evaluator, a guardian ad litem and an attorney representative for the child, all of whom may provide input to inform the judge’s decision.
A child custody evaluator is a person appointed by the court at either party’s request or on the court’s own initiative to provide a written, professional evaluation. They are typically, but not always, mental health professionals who can provide a objective evaluation of the parties involved.
If a court appoints a guardian ad litem, he or she is there to represent the best interests of the child. A guardian ad litem or GAL is specifically trained to make a recommendation on what is in the best interests of the child after interviewing parents and children. The GAL’s neutral assessment is intended to help the judge make a custody determination strictly for the benefit of the child.
An attorney representative, by contrast, is there to expressly advocate for the position of the child. They are not there to represent the child’s best interests necessarily, but to convey the child’s wishes.
In nearly every custody dispute, a gaurdian ad litem is assigned. Evaluators will be appointed if requested by either party or in more difficult cases that may require a professional assessment. Attorney representatives are not typically appointed – they play a role on a more case by case basis as appropriate.
The goal of the process is to provide the court with sufficient information that will aid the judge in making a determination to protect the best interests of the child/children when parents are unable to work together. Ideally, with the help of an experienced family law attorney skilled at negotiation, you will reach an arrangement between you and your spouse regarding custody arrangements before having to leave it up to a judge. However, in the event you cannot, the aim of the court is to help you and your spouse work out the best custody and visitation arrangement.
If you have questions or concerns related to Illinois child custody and visitation arrangements, contact the Law Offices of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for help today. Attorney Michael Strauss is a trained gaurdian ad litem and will be able to shed light on the litigation process when their are divisive issues regarding the custody of your children. Contact our office today for answers to your questions regarding Illinois child custody and visitation.