In this article...
Courts in Iowa sometimes appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in cases involving custody, juvenile law, and some cases involving persons under certain legal disabilities. The GAL’s role is to represent the interests of the minor or person with a legal disability. This representation takes various forms depending on the type of case. Generally it is to participate in the case on behalf of the child’s best interests. In this article, we will discuss:
- What does a GAL do in a Child Custody Case?
- When will a GAL be appointed in a child custody case?
- Who pays for the GAL?
What is a Guardian Ad Litem’s role in a Custody Case?
In matters involving custody, such as divorce, the Court may appoint a GAL to represent the best interests of any minor children. The GAL’s duties include:
- Conducting an initial in-person interview with the child, if the child’s age is appropriate for the interview, and interviewing each parent, guardian, or other person having custody of the child;
- Maintaining regular contact with the child
- Visiting the home, residence, or both home and residence of the child and any prospective home or residence of the child
- Interviewing persons providing medical, mental health, social, educational, or other services to the child prior to any hearing, and attending these appointments.
- Obtaining knowledge of facts, circumstances, and parties involved in the matter in which the person is appointed GAL
- Attending depositions, hearings, or trials in the matter in which the person is appointed GAL, and filing motions or responses, making objections, calling witnesses, offering evidence, and questioning witnesses on behalf of the best interests of the child, and propose requested relief.
However, the GAL is not allowed to testify, serve as a witness, or file a written report in the custody matter. The GAL is also not allowed to also be the child’s attorney, or family reporter, in the same matter.
When will a GAL be appointed in a child custody case?
Ideally, the GAL will remain unbiased, and present what he or she truly thinks is what is in the best interests of the children. He or she will do this through the regular contact with the child and the private conversations they have with them.
Who pays for the GAL?
Parties may request a GAL be appointed. However, parties should consider this carefully, as the parties often bear the cost of paying the GAL. The Court may also appoint a GAL on its own. Whether a GAL is appointed, or is necessary, depends on the specific circumstances of the case.