Guardian Ad Litem

If you are involved in a custody dispute, you may be assigned a guardian ad litem (GAL). The guardian ad litem is a court-appointed advocate for the child who is neutral in regard to the parents and looks out for the best interests of the child.

The GAL may intervene in matters such as custody and visitation, while sparing the child from some of the legal battle being waged. Courts frequently use guardians ad litem to assist in the determination of child custody cases. Guardians ad litem may also be ordered by the court in cases involving child abuse and neglect.

The guardian ad litem relationship lasts only for the duration of the custody litigation. In Georgia, a GAL may be an attorney, a psychologist or another professional with special training. The guardian ad litem assists the court by investigating the parents, which includes interviewing them in their respective residences. The guardian ad litem also interviews the children and people who know the family (relatives, teachers, etc.).

The courts generally give a great deal of weight to a guardian ad litem's findings, and the guardian ad litem may at times initiate court proceedings on behalf of the child. If the parents qualify for financial assistance, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem at no cost to the parents. Otherwise, the parents will be responsible for the cost, typically in the ratio of their respective incomes or evenly split with each paying half. In some cases, the court may also assign the full cost of the guardian ad litem to one parent if there is a big difference in income.

If you have a legal issue that involves a guardian ad litem, call Hecht Family Law at 678-926-9234 and attorney Ed Hecht will help you with whatever family law issue you are experiencing.