When the court needs someone to represent the interests of minor children in court, a guardian ad litem (GAL) may be appointed. These are not equivalent to “legal guardians.” Instead, they represent the child in court, often for child custody arrangements and agreements. The judge will typically follow the recommendation a guardian ad litem advocates for. Guardian ad litems can also be involved in removing children from environments determined to be hostile.
In some cases, the appointment of a guardian ad litem is mandatory — this is likely to happen in cases where a parent has been accused, or there is evidence, of neglect, abuse, or endangerment, all of which cover a wide range of possible offenses. Under Indiana law, the guardian ad litem is required to represent the best interests of the child. In some cases, this might mean that what the guardian ad litem advocates for isn’t necessarily what the child wants, but what they believe will be best for the child.
If a parent feels that the guardian ad litem has not acted in the best interest in the child, it is possible to file a complaint, but the process is difficult, and the court will likely need to rehear evidence that was already presented. If this is a situation you have found yourself in, consulting an experienced attorney is likely in your best interest. It is not possible for parents to fire guardian ad litems who have been appointed by the court — the court must decide to remove them.
Simply not liking a GAL, or feeling that they prefer one parent over another, is not grounds for removal. The GALs job is not to be neutral — it’s to determine what is best for the child in question. If you have questions about guardian ad litem representation, contact our Fort Wayne family attorney at 260-428-2214, or contact The Bellinger Law Office online.