Attorneys Cohen & Winters have helped clients with guardian ad litem (GAL) representation for children in Manchester NH.
What Is A Guardian Ad Litem?
If the parenting schedule, or the terms, extent or nature of parental rights and responsibilities, are in any way disputed by the parties, the Court may appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to represent the interests of the children.
This person may or may not be an attorney, but acts as an advocate for the best interests of the children (which may not be what the children expressly want). The Guardian is a full party to a divorce matter, and gathers information and submits a recommendation to the Court as to how contested parenting issues should be resolved by the Court, since our system does not generally permit children to be dragged into family court to testify about their parents, in their presence. The Guardian is not a judge, and the Guardian’s recommendation is not binding on the Court. However, the Guardian is clearly an important player in the divorce process. The involvement of a Guardian Ad Litem will obviously serve to increase one’s legal fees and may increase the length of time it might take for a case to be resolved.
Responsibilities of a Guardian Ad Litem
A Guardian Ad Litem’s function is to investigate the competing parenting claims of the parties (which are often self-serving and sometimes less than accurate) by interviewing the parties themselves, and sometimes conducting a home visit to view each party’s living arrangements, interviewing witnesses offered by each party (usually three to five people), and in certain cases interviewing teachers, counselors, religious figures, and the children themselves when they are age appropriate and old enough to understand and have the ability to provide useful information to assist the Guardian’s recommendation.
Often the issues a parent and/or children are presented with during a parenting dispute will require professional counseling and other resources to help them through this emotionally charged situation. Due to my experience in dealing with professionals who are highly trained to help individuals in this type of situation, I can often offer suggestions and referrals for additional support and services, if necessary during this difficult time.