Guardian Ad Litem
What is a Guardian Ad Litem?
A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an officer of the Court who is appointed to represent the interests of children in court proceedings. A Guardian Ad Litem can be appointed by a judge, but in divorces it is usually the parties getting divorced that request the Court to appoint a GAL. When the parents are seeking custody of their children, they will want a Guardian Ad Litem to make a recommendation of who they think the best parent for the children will be. Because the Gaurdian Ad Litem is only looking out for the interests of the children, Cours will look very favorably upon their opinions.
What Do Guardian Ad Litems Do?
A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is appointed by the Court to protect the interests of the child. A Guardian Ad Litem must do whatever is necessary to protect the best interests of the child. (See Ohio Revised Code Section 2151.281). The GAL must maintain independence, objectivity, and fairness. The GAL must make reasonable efforts to become informed about the facts of the case, which can mean:
- Meeting and interviewing the child/children
- Meeting and interviewing the child/children with each parent
- Ascertaining the child's wishes
- Meeting and interviewing any party who may have relevant knowledge about the child and the child's condition.
- Meeting and interviewing school personnel, medical and mental health providers
The Guardian Ad Litem can request psychological, mental health, or substance abuse assessments regarding any of the parties. Ultimately, the Guardian Ad Litem must provide the Court with a written report of the activities listed above, and provide a recommendation as to who should have custody of the child/children. Because of the independent nature of the GAL, the Court looks very favorably upon their report.