Guardian Ad Litems

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Guardian Ad Litems

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What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

A Guardian ad Litem or GAL is an attorney who is appointed by the judge to look after the best interests of your child. In Missouri, Guardians complete a special set of classes and legal training in order to adequately represent your child’s needs. While a Guardian ad Litem is not appointed in every child custody case, they can be appointed if allegations of abuse or neglect are made, or if the judge deems a GAL’s presence to be necessary for other purposes. A Guardian can also be appointed at the request of one of the parties.

What is the Guardian’s Job?

A GAL’s job is to conduct an investigation into the life of your home and your child. After the process is complete, the Guardian ad Litem gives a recommendation about child custody to the judge. These opinions are usually looked upon with a great deal of importance. Guardian’s studies can include inquiries into the daily lives of you and your child, your medical records, schooling records, and other relevant documents. A Guardian may also speak with family doctors, teachers, or any other relevant witnesses. It is not unusual for a GAL to speak with your child alone about his or her feelings and thoughts.

Why have a GAL Present?

A Guardian is a very useful resource in the case where abuse or neglect is potentially present, or even if the parents simply cannot reach an agreement over custody. A Guardian’s decision could be very different from your personal opinions on the matter. It is important to discuss all of the rights and responsibilities a GAL holds with your attorney, who will be able to explain the in-depth custody process with you.

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