Many times in contested custody cases, it may be necessary to use a guardian ad litem (GAL) who can help conduct an investigation and make a recommendation as to what is in the best interests of the children. When a guardian ad litem conducts an investigation they thoroughly investigate every aspect of the child’s life including their life with each parent. This can include looking into the child’s school and medical records and speaking with teachers, parents, and family friends to fully understand a family’s situation.
An attorney can further explain guardian ad litem investigations in Alpharetta and whether it may help in your case. Throughout the process, a diligent team of lawyers can help you make the decisions necessary to give your children the best possible future, including whether it may be necessary to bring in a guardian ad litem.
The guardian ad litem determines the best interests of the child using their specialized training as a GAL and personal experiences. To conduct their investigation, the guardian will gather information and talk to individuals involved with the children. They will then make a recommendation based on those facts and their opinion regarding the best custody situation, but ultimately the judge makes any decision.
The elements that a guardian ad litem will search for in their investigation varies and is very fact specific to the family. Generally, they will look at how the children are doing in different aspects of their lives. To do this, they will look at the children’s grades and behavior and look for any issues. They will also talk to the children and listen to what they are saying about what is going on in each household and what their parents are like.
Generally, they are looking to see if either parent has an issue that will affect their ability to parent well. This can include substance abuse issues as well as the work schedules of each parent. When a parent travels a lot for work, it will affect what custody situation is workable. They will also talk to teachers and consider how involved each of the parents is in the children’s education. Anything that the guardian thinks is relevant to determining the best situation for the children is something that will investigate.
After a guardian ad litem finishes their investigation, most of the time, the case has already settled and the guardian ad litem does not present any evidence to the court. However, in a situation where the case does not settle before the guardian makes their recommendation, they will have to go to a final trial on the custody issue. At this trial, the guardian ad litem will have prepared a very detailed written report.
The report will list every single person they talked to in the course of their investigation as well as all of the records they reviewed. It will then describe their findings and give a recommendation as to what they think is the best possible custody situation and the reasons why.
There are several limitations on a GAL in Alpharetta. One is that, although the guardian ad litem has broad information available to them as well as the power to access all relevant records and speak with relevant individuals, they do not have decision-making authority.
Another limitation a guardian ad litem could face in their investigation might be a lack of cooperation from opposing counsel or one of the parties. This can create a delay in the case. Also, even though the guardian ad litem is supposed to have access to all relevant records and individuals, sometimes a school or a counselor might be uncooperative. Sometimes a school or medical professional might not respond quickly. A travel restriction, such as if one party lives out of state, could also make the investigation more difficult. Often, a guardian ad litem will travel out of state to visit another parent’s home but this creates a lot of additional expenses for the parties because the parties who have to pay for these expenses.
On the family’s end, there may be financial limitations, as the guardian ad litem is an attorney who charges an attorney’s hourly rate. Because of that, many parties are not able to afford a very thorough investigation which can place a limitation on how much the guardian is able to do as a thorough guardian ad litem investigations take time. In general, some guardians are able to do an investigation in as little as three months, but these investigations typically take six months to a year.
A guardian ad litem can help make the process of determining child custody easier. They do this by conducting a thorough investigation into all areas of the family’s life. This includes looking into the child’s education, mental health, and home life. To learn more about the guardian ad litem investigation in Alpharetta, call today for a consultation.
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