Why Was a Guardian ad Litem Appointed to My Case?

guardian ad litem, Wheaton family law attorneyWhen parents cannot agree on how to divide parental responsibilities, including decision-making authority and parenting time, the court is forced to make decisions for them. In doing so, the court will hear arguments and proposals from both parents, but with the understanding that it is nearly impossible for most parents to objectively consider the best interests of their children. Sometimes, the court may even suspect that it is not getting the full story from one or both parents. When this is the case, Illinois law allows a judge to appoint an independent attorney to serve as guardian ad litem (GAL) for the duration of the proceedings.

What Is a GAL?

A guardian ad litem is a licensed attorney who meets certain experience requirements and who has undergone select training related to resolving family law disputes. Each county maintains a list of qualified GALs who may be appointed in a given case. Either party in the case may ask for a GAL to be appointed or the court may make the appointment on its own.

Unlike a “regular” attorney who advocates on behalf of his or her client, the guardian ad litem is not considered to be counsel for any party in the case. Instead, the GAL serves as the eyes and ears of the court in investigative and advisory capacities. The GAL is tasked with gathering information about the case in question and providing a recommendation to the court regarding the outcome.

Cooperating With a GAL

When a guardian ad litem is appointed, it is important to cooperate with him or her during the investigation. The GAL will almost certainly interview you and your child, as well as the other parent, teachers, relatives, and anyone else whose input may be important. The guardian ad litem will probably also visit your home to ensure that you are providing a safe environment for your child. Additionally, the GAL may also ask for financial records, court documents, and other paperwork that support any statements or arguments you have made.

The purpose of the investigation is for the GAL to develop a clear picture of the situation surrounding the child. If you have been honest in your court filings and testimony, the GAL’s investigation will likely strengthen your case. If you have been deceptive, your deceptions will probably be exposed.

Based on the information collected, the guardian ad litem will prepare a recommended outcome for the court. The report is submitted to the court and treated as expert witness testimony, subject to cross-examination by both sides. While the court is not required to use the GAL’s recommendation, judges are usually inclined to give substantial weight to a GAL’s report due to the attorney’s experience, training, and access to information.

Contact Our Office

If a guardian ad litem has been appointed in your child-related case, our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys can help you cooperate with him or her. Contact Andrew Cores Family Law Group to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today. Call 630-871-1002 for an appointment.




Review Your Parenting Plan for Summer Vacation

summer, Wheaton family law attorneyIn just a matter of weeks, children throughout Northern Illinois will be done with school for the summertime. If you have children, you have probably seen signs of excitement. They may be ready to sleep in later than usual and to spend time outdoors with friends. You, the parent, may be eager for summer to arrive as well, but if you are divorced, the extended break may bring a few additional concerns. If you are currently subject to any type of shared parenting arrangement or custody order, it is time to begin making plans for the summer months ahead.

Know What Your Plan Says

The most important thing you need to do before summer break arrives is to review your existing parenting arrangements so that you are refreshed on your rights and responsibilities. Your parenting plan likely contains at least a bare-bones parenting time schedule. In some cases, the schedule may actually be quite detailed.

Many parenting plans offer the majority of the summer parenting time to the parent who gets less time with the children during the school year. This is especially common when that parent lives in another city or state. Other agreements maintain a schedule that is largely similar to the one used during the rest of the year with allowances for summer holidays, planned trips, or other special occasions.

Once you know what your parenting plan says, you can begin to make plans and to start negotiations with the other parent, if necessary. For example, if you want to take your children on a week-long vacation in July, doing so may require the other parent to give up a few days of scheduled parenting time. While this is not an unreasonable request, you should be prepared to give up some of your parenting time on another occasion to facilitate plans by the other parent.

Communication Is Key

If you and the other parent intentionally left your parenting arrangement rather vague regarding summer parenting time, you will need to communicate and work together. It is better to begin the planning process now rather than to wait until the last minute. Planning ahead allows you to know what will soon be happening, and it gives you the chance to keep your children informed as well. Your children cannot get excited about a planned event if they do not know about it.

Regardless of what has occurred between you and the other parent, do your best to remain flexible this summer—at least to a certain extent. Summer is the perfect setting for spontaneous day trips, baseball games, and picnics. Your children’s other parent may ask for an extra day to offer them an impromptu surprise, or you may have a similar idea of your own. Be willing to extend such a courtesy, as doing so can allow your children to get the most out of this summer’s break.

If you are struggling to come up with a summer parenting time schedule or your existing arrangement needs to be amended, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-871-1002 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Andrew Cores Family Law Group today.





Family Genetics May Play a Role in Divorce Likelihood

genetics, Wheaton family law attorneysRelationship and social science experts have known for generations that children of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced later in life than children whose parents stayed together are. Of course, knowing that something is more likely to happen is not the same as knowing why that thing is more likely to happen, especially when it comes to children and families.

Noted scientists have long gone back and forth on the issue of “nature vs. nurture” in many areas of study. The debate boils down to two simple questions with quite complex answers. How much of a person’s behavior is determined by the environment in which he or she was raised, and how much is determined by his or her genetics and evolutionary instincts? A recent study suggests that divorce, of all things, may be linked to a person’s genetics more than we ever really thought possible.

Putting Ideas to the Test

Last fall, a team of researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and Sweden’s Lund University conducted a large-scale study that is considered to be one of the first of its kind. The team examined the marriages and family histories of nearly 20,000 individuals who had been adopted as children and raised by someone other than their biological parents. By looking solely at adopted men and women, the study essentially created a divide between biological and environmental influences.

The researchers found that when the adopted adult children were 20 percent more likely to get divorced if their biological parents got divorced, regardless of any contact between the adopted child and the biological parents. When their adoptive parents got divorced, the adult children were no more and no less likely to get divorced themselves.

The team also looked at situations involving biological and adoptive siblings who were raised in the same households. The results again showed that subjects tended to show marital and divorce patterns similar to their biological brothers and sisters, not their adopted siblings, despite being raised in the same environment.

Breaking New Ground

The study’s authors say that their findings are notable and that they diverge dramatically from most of the information currently available about divorce and family relationships. “Nearly all the prior literature emphasized that divorce was transmitted across generations psychologically,” said one of the researchers. “Our results contradict that, suggesting that genetic factors are more important.” The team hopes that recognizing the genetic components of divorce will help therapists develop more effective strategies for assisting couples in crisis.

Call Us for Help

Regardless of what makes someone more likely to divorce, if your marriage has reached its breaking point, it is important to seek qualified guidance from an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation at Andrew Cores Family Law Group today.