Can I fire my Guardian ad Litem in my Virginia custody case?

Posted on Nov 22, 2013 by Katie Carter

In a custody case, a Guardian ad Litem is an attorney appointed to represent the best interests of the child. Just like you have an attorney, and your child’s father has an attorney, your child has an attorney. It is the Guardian ad Litem’s job to interview the child, interview the parents, and, ultimately, make a recommendation to the court.

GALs have a special place in the court system that generally attracts hatred from both sides. The parents are responsible for paying for the Guardian ad Litem, but that’s about it. Otherwise, the GAL is more or less immune from the criticisms of the parents involved.

In fact, in most cases, both of the parents really hate the GAL. Why? Well, it’s fairly easy to understand. Parents have to pay for a third attorney, which isn’t easy, and they have no control over how the GAL moves forward from that point. Besides, it’s not very easy to like someone who was hired to be critical of you, your home, and your parenting style.

Most GALs aren’t particularly nice to either party, no matter who they wind up recommending that custody be awarded to, mostly because they don’t want the other parent to have reason to complain to the court that they were friendlier or more receptive to, for example, mom than dad.

Guardian ad Litems are responsible for doing certain things in the cases in which they are appointed. For more information on the role of the GAL, click here. Still, it’s important to be really, really careful if you’re trying to be critical of your GAL. In most cases, even if one party or the other complains about the GAL, she won’t be removed. And, if you think about it, do you REALLY want someone making a recommendation to the court about whether you or your husband deserves custody after you tried to remove her from your case and she KNOWS you tried to remove her? It’s pretty risky.

In most cases, you won’t be able to remove your Guardian ad Litem, and it’s riskier to try to remove her than it is to just move forward with your case and try to improve her opinion of you later on. For some tips on how to deal with your Guardian ad Litem without prejudicing your case, click here.