Providence Attorneys for Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)
What Is a Guardian Ad Litem?
A Guardian ad litem (GAL) is a lawyer or mental health professional appointed
by the court to conduct an investigation and report to the judge regarding
the best interests of the child whose parents are getting divorced. If
you believe that it is in the best interests of the child to have a guardian
ad litem, then talk to one of our Providence GAL lawyers at TJC ESQ immediately.
We can start you off with a
consultation: (401) 216-4414.
When Is a Guardian Ad Litem Necessary?
A child may need a Guardian ad litem (GAL) because the atmosphere between
his or her parents has become so toxic that they are incapable of reaching
agreements about custody and visitation that serve the child's needs.
A guardian ad litem may be necessary if the parent suspects the following
and wants an investigation by a neutral third party:
- Undue influence
- Parental impairment
Guardian ad litem can also be used when an older child may express a desire
to change residences but you may not want her involved in the court contest
that arises if both parents do not consent. The child may have special
needs that must be addressed in custody and visitation orders.
Are My Parental Rights Affected?
A GAL is appointed only for purposes of the divorce proceeding. The GAL
is discharged when the final decree of divorce is entered or sooner if
all the issues for which s/he has been appointed have been resolved earlier.
The parents always retain all their rights as legal guardians of the child.
Parents cannot hire a Guardian ad litem. But, one or both parents can
ask the court to appoint a GAL to protect the rights of their children.
If you think your children need a GAL, ask your lawyer to file a motion
requesting the appointment of a GAL.
Tasks of the GAL
Court orders appointing a GAL set out the tasks of the GAL. In most cases,
the court is asking for recommendations about custody, physical placement
and/or visitation. Sometimes a GAL will be appointed to speak to an older
child about his/her preference in living with either parent. GALs are
appointed to investigate mental health, substance abuse and alienation
issues and develop appropriate visitation plans for children.
Relocation of one of the parents is a frequent source of contention between
divorced parties and a GAL can be appointed to provide the court with
information about the desired move. The GAL is paid by the parties. The
court does not pay the fees of the GAL in domestic cases. The GAL fees
must be reasonable and consistent with those charged by similar professionals.
A GAL may ask for a retainer before commencing his/her investigation.
There are both laws and standards that describe the duties and responsibilities
of the GAL. The statutory authority can be found at R.E.G.L 15-5-16.2.
The Chief Judge of the Family Court has issued an Administrative Order
(2006-02) setting forth the credentialing process as well as the rules
governing the appointment and performance of GALs in domestic cases.
If you have any questions about having a guardian ad litem,
call us at (401) 216-4414.