A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) can be assigned to your case to make recommendations to the judge about what is in the best interests of a child involved in a parenting plan case. A GAL investigates your case and makes recommendations to the judge regarding parenting time, co-parenting behavior, and ways to best meet the children’s needs in a developmentally appropriate manner. A GAL can be assigned when both parties agree a GAL is necessary, when one party wishes to have a GAL assigned and the judge agrees, or when the judge would like a GAL to be assigned, even if both parties object to working with a GAL. The parties split the cost of the GAL.
When parties effectively work with a GAL for assistance in working through co-parenting disputes, the dissolution process can change course from being highly litigious and polarizing to solution-focused and may even resolve without court intervention or need for attorneys on both sides.
A GAL is appropriate when the issues in dispute are primarily about the child and big picture parenting time questions (e.g. the parties dispute where the child should go to school, what type of therapist, what after school activities are appropriate, or whether shared parenting without a primary parent is age-appropriate for the child). If the issues in the dispute are primarily about the other parent, co-parenting behavior, and co-parenting communication, a Parenting Coordinator is more appropriate. See the information on a Parenting Coordinator here.
MTLJ’s Meri Althauser is qualified to be appointed as a GAL in any case due to her background in Psychology, her extensive training in parenting coordination, Circle of Security parenting classes, and experience in family law and as an advocate for children involved in Dependency and Neglect Cases.
If you believe a Guardian ad Litem would be appropriate for your case and are interested in finding out more about the process and costs, please fill out our Get Legal Help form or call us at 406-356-6546 to get more information.