Guardian Ad Litem

A Guardian Ad Litem, or GAL, may be appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child in a child custody case. The GAL, along with the parents or other person seeking custody, is a party to the case RCW 26.12.175.  I am certified as a Title 26 Guardian Ad Litem with the Kitsap Superior Court.

The duties of a GAL vary and are determined by court order.  Normally they include an investigation and  recommendation to the court of an appropriate parenting plan, however sometimes duties are limited to such issues as investigating claims of parental alienation or determining whether restrictions on parental decision-making are warranted, for example.

What does a Guardian Ad Litem investigation consist of?

The Guardian Ad Litem will visit the homes of both parties seeking custody. He or she will usually interview both parents, the children, relatives, teachers, and friends. The GAL may consider other information such as psychological or school records. Though the GAL will take the child’s preferences into account and report them to the court, they will not rely solely on the child’s preferences to determine their best interest. After the investigation, the GAL creates a report with recommendations for the court.

Preparing for a Guardian Ad Litem’s investigation can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. Though child custody cases can be very emotional, it is important to present only the most relevant and persuasive set of facts to your GAL. As an attorney, I will advise my clients how to communicate effectively with their own Guardian Ad Litem, and my clients benefit from my additional training and experience as a Guardian Ad Litem.