A Guardian ad Litem, or GAL, is a court-appointed specialist responsible for making a recommendation to the Judge regarding the best interests of a minor child or minor children in a contested custody legal action. Most GALs are lawyers.
GALs can be appointed in divorce actions or modification of child custody cases by the Judge upon the request of the Plaintiff or Defendant or the Judge’s unilateral decision. GALs are expected to conduct a thorough investigation upon appointment. They may meet with the child, conduct home visits, meet with both prospective parents, talk with a wide array of witnesses, including teachers, pediatricians, neighbors, and relatives. Once a GAL has had an opportunity to complete an investigation, he will usually make a written recommendation for the Court. If the case goes to mediation, a GAL can assist in negotiations. If the case goes to trial, the GAL will be called as a witness and will be questioned by both sides and the Judge. Since a GAL has an opportunity to conduct out-of-court investigations for a number of hours, judges typically give a significant amount of weight to the GAL’s recommendation in custody battles.
Much like Plaintiff’s of Defendant’s counsel, GALs usually charge a retainer and hourly rate. Costs of the GAL are most commonly split by the parties. However, judges can also require the Plaintiff or the Defendant to pay a different percentage of the GAL fees—even the full amount without any assistance from the other side.
Benjamin Porter, Esq. is an experienced Guardian Ad Litem within the greater Atlanta area and is ready to talk with you about your situation.
If you need a Guardian Ad Litem, contact us today. 678.710.9100.