West Haven, CT asked in Family Law for Connecticut

Q: Can I hire a GAL for my grandchildren so that I know their best interests are being presented?

My concern is that pick up and drop offs are very toxic for my grandchildren. The exchanges need to be monitored and contact extremely limited between the parents. My other concern is that things are being said about my daughter to the children by their father and while this is being fought out and dragged on in court, the boys suffer. I want to make sure their voices are heard even though they cannot speak.

Related Topics:
2 Lawyer Answers
Melissa Jill Needle
Melissa Jill Needle
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Westport, CT
  • Licensed in Connecticut

A: GAL's are either appointed by the Court in a Divorce or Family Law Action or determined by mutual agreement of the Parties and "approved" by the Court.

WHAT IS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL)?

A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a court appointed individual, by either the successful motion of a party or when the family court determines a GAL is necessary to advocate for the best interests of the child. The court considers appointment of a GAL when parties (parents) are unable to resolve a parenting or child related dispute, and they are frequently appointed when the matter is a highly contested custody dispute.

The GAL’s role is different from that of an Attorney for a Minor Child (AMC). GALs ONLY represents the best interests of the child, and may testify as a witness, providing the court with what they believe to the best interests of the child based, while an AMC represents both a child legal interests AND best interests, but does not testify before the court.

DOES A GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL) NEED TO BE A LICENSED ATTORNEY?

Only individuals who have completed the comprehensive training program outlined in the Connecticut Judicial Branch’s Practice Book are eligible to be a GAL. Unlike AMCs, GALs do not have to be attorneys.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL)?

A GAL only represents the best interests of the child. The court may require the GAL to perform certain functions.

Some of the functions could be:

Investigate facts;

Interview the parties, the child, and close relatives;

Review files and records;

Talk to teachers, coaches, and people involved in the lives of the children;

Speak with medical professionals, including mental health providers;

Participate in court hearings;

Make recommendations to the court with respect to visitation and the mechanics of a proposed parenting plan;

Encourage settlement of disputes between the parties;

The court may also need the GAL to perform other functions to promote the best interests of the child. The court will delineate the role of the GAL in each case, which role will be made an order of the court.

Who pays the GAL?

The parties to the case (parents) pay the fees for the GAL. Each party is required to submit a financial affidavit to the court prior to and/or simultaneously with the appointment of a GAL. The court will consider each party’s financial situation and order how the payment is to be divided between them. In some cases, the parties may qualify for the appointment of a GAL that is paid for by the state, or the GAL fees may be on a sliding scale based on financial resources of the parties.

Melissa Jill Needle
Melissa Jill Needle
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Westport, CT
  • Licensed in Connecticut

A: GAL's are either appointed by the Court in a Divorce or Family Law Action or determined by the mutual agreement of the Parties and "approved" by the Court.

WHAT IS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL)?

A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a court appointed individual, by either the successful motion of a party or when the family court determines a GAL is necessary to advocate for the best interests of the child. The court considers appointment of a GAL when parties (parents) are unable to resolve a parenting or child related dispute, and they are frequently appointed when the matter is a highly contested custody dispute.

The GAL’s role is different from that of an Attorney for a Minor Child (AMC). GALs ONLY represents the best interests of the child, and may testify as a witness, providing the court with what they believe to the best interests of the child based, while an AMC represents both a child legal interests AND best interests, but does not testify before the court.

DOES A GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL) NEED TO BE A LICENSED ATTORNEY?

Only individuals who have completed the comprehensive training program outlined in the Connecticut Judicial Branch’s Practice Book are eligible to be a GAL. Unlike AMCs, GALs do not have to be attorneys.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL)?

A GAL only represents the best interests of the child. The court may require the GAL to perform certain functions.

Some of the functions could be:

Investigate facts;

Interview the parties, the child, and close relatives;

Review files and records;

Talk to teachers, coaches, and people involved in the lives of the children;

Speak with medical professionals, including mental health providers;

Participate in court hearings;

Make recommendations to the court with respect to visitation and the mechanics of a proposed parenting plan;

Encourage settlement of disputes between the parties;

The court may also need the GAL to perform other functions to promote the best interests of the child. The court will delineate the role of the GAL in each case, which role will be made an order of the court.

Who pays the GAL?

The parties to the case (parents) pay the fees for the GAL. Each party is required to submit a financial affidavit to the court prior to and/or simultaneously with the appointment of a GAL. The court will consider each party’s financial situation and order how the payment is to be divided between them. In some cases, the parties may qualify for the appointment of a GAL that is paid for by the state, or the GAL fees may be on a sliding scale based on financial resources of the parties.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.