Family Court Guardian ad Litem (GAL)
A GAL is an attorney, licensed to practice law in Wisconsin. The GAL is court appointed to represent the legal best interests of the child/children as determined by the GAL through investigation and court process.
The Guardian Ad Litem will take a position in court on legal custody and physical placement. The GAL does not have any of the rights or duties of a parent or general guardian. Often the GAL is incorrectly referred to as the child/children’s attorney, the role of the GAL is to advocate for the best interests of the child/children, not to advocate for either parent. This may mean that the GAL is not advocating for what the child/children want.
A GAL is involved in a Family Court case when the parents cannot agree on custody and/or placement. GAL’s are appointed to represent the best interests of minor mothers or minor fathers in paternity cases, to represent child/children born outside of a marriage, minors involved in child abuse restraining order cases, deceased alleged fathers involved in establishing paternity and incompetent adults involved in family court cases. GAL’s are appointed by a Family Court Commissioner or Judge acting alone or when asked by one of the parents or their attorneys.
The GAL’s role in representing the best interests of the children may involve negotiating settlements, discussing the case with both parents and ascertaining the child/children’s wishes, conducting informal and formal discovery and participating in all court proceedings as a party.
Cooperation by both parents with the GAL is required and leads to the best outcome in Family Court matters.