Virginia Mother’s BEWARE of Guardian Ad Litem in Child Custody Cases

Posted on May 7, 2011 by Hofheimer Family Law

When custody of your children is in dispute, or sometimes, when visitation cannot be agreed to by the parents, courts will often appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to represent the “best interest” of your Children..

Don’t Assume The Guardian Ad Litem will Share Your View

A Guardian ad Litem, often referred to as a GAL, is a court appointed attorney who can have a significant influence on the outcome of your custody case and that influence can be against your interest and in favor of the children’s father. So do not assume that a GAL will share your views about what is best for your children.

Don’t Spill Your Guts to the Guardian Ad Litem

Be Careful about spilling your guts to the GAL. If you start spilling your guts and telling the GAL about every wrong thing the children’s father has ever done, you will quickly turn the GAL against you and once they form an opinion about you, it is hard to undo that opinion. GAL’s are people just like you and me and they bring to your case their own predjudices and agendas. You want to be very careful what you tell a GAL and how you tell it.

Don’t Criticize Father-Relate how his actions impact your child

Don’t criticize Dad, Show how what Dad did impacts your child. For Instance, instead of telling the GAL that your child’s father is inconsiderate and never thinks about how his actions affect young “Mike”, you might describe exactly how “Mike” reacts when dad’s promises are unfullfilled. Give believable examples of dad’s actions and their impact on your son.
Par “B” to follow.
1. Don’t Exaggerate, Understate.
2. Don’t be a “Gusher” in your first meeting
3. Feed Your Information to the GAL in manageable doses
4. Remember the GAL may be your ADVERSARY in court. Don’t Ever Forget This !

Don’t Exaggerate, Understate

When explaining the difficulties you are encountering with the father of your child, narrow the focus and the conversation to the top 1 or 2 issues. Focus on the most critical issue and be organized about your concerns. Have specific incidences outlined in summary form with a list of any witnesses, their phone numbers, email address and physical address as well as the best time to call. Give a copy of your outline to the GAL but make sure their is no profanity and no opinions about dad. The outline should not be longer than one page.

Don’t be a “Gusher” in your first Meeting

If you are speaking more than 5 or 6 minutes straight about an issue, you are probably “gushing”. I liken “gushing” to verbally throwing upon the GAL, trying to express all your thoughts and emotions about dad’s parenting deficiencies in one prolonged monologue. The problem with “gushing” is the GAL, like other people, just quit hearing and discerning what you are trying to communicate. They simply turn “gushers” off.