What Is A Guardian Ad Litem?
When adults require legal services, they can hire an attorney. But what about children in contested custody proceedings whose parents refuse to focus on their best interests? Or children whose parents are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and cannot make sound decisions for them?
When child custody proceedings get difficult in Massachusetts, the family court judge may involve a guardian ad litem (GAL) to conduct an impartial, objective study of the child’s circumstances and report their findings to the court for review. The GAL will conduct home visits, meet with social workers or teachers, and interview relevant witnesses to gather the facts whether the child’s environment is a safe and nurturing atmosphere. The report will assist the family court judge in creating a custody settlement that preserves the best interest of the child.
The court may also appoint the GAL to act as a representative for children who are minors or someone who is legally declared incompetent as well as for cases involving alleged child neglect or abuse.
GALs are usually, but not always, attorneys. Their training includes developing the right skills to communicate with children who are struggling with uncertainty, fear, trauma or guilt, and who may have a difficult time expressing themselves. A judge will always acknowledge the importance of a GAL in contested child custody proceedings even if they do not agree with the GAL’s report point by point. A GAL can question witnesses, give a report and discuss their findings in court.
Leila Wons is a state-certified GAL. Building on a foundation of extensive experience working with families, she has been specially trained to provide families GAL services as appointed by the courts. The Law Office of Leila J. Wons, P.C., provides compassionate, meticulous representation no matter what side of a GAL report you are contending with.
What Types Of Cases Will Trigger GAL Involvement?
GALs investigate the facts for cases that implicate the rights or interests of children. This can include:
- Custody and visitation
- Termination of parental rights
- Custodial parent’s quest to move out of state with the child
- Existence of a parent-child relationship
- Changes that may warrant modification of a court order
While her duties vary from case to case, Attorney Wons provides comprehensive GAL services.
Learn More At An Appointment
The appointment of a GAL can be an added layer in a case of ensuring the decisions made in your custody disputes are in the best interest of your children. As a firm whose attorney can serve as a GAL, we have extensive knowledge of the role and impact this position can have on a case. Learn more about Attorney Wons and her work as a GAL by calling 508-986-9406 or email us to schedule an appointment.