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DuPage County child custody attorneyIn Illinois family law cases, the terms “child custody” and “visitation” are not referred to as “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” When divorcing parents cannot agree on an arrangement for dividing parental responsibilities and parenting time, the court may need to intervene. Custody-related legal proceedings can be stressful for both the parents and the children. If you are in a legal dispute with your child’s other parent, you may have concerns about your child’s involvement in the case. Child testimonies are sometimes, but not always, used in Illinois child custody disputes. Fortunately, Illinois courts have several methods for conducting child interviews in a way that minimizes the stress on the child.

Will My Child Be Put on the Witness Stand?

If you and your child’s other parent cannot agree upon a parenting arrangement, a judge will be tasked with making a custody determination that serves the child’s best interests. You may wonder whether this means that your child will be forced to testify in court. Typically, children are not required to testify in court; however, the judge may use a child interview to gather information regarding a custody case. 

Because court hearings can be very overwhelming and frightening for children, Illinois courts do everything possible to gather children’s testimonies in a child-friendly way. Rarely are children placed on the witness stand. If the judge wishes to hear the child’s testimony in a custody case, he or she will most likely speak to the child privately in the judge's chambers. The judge may ask the child questions about his or her thoughts, feelings, and preferences. Unless otherwise agreed upon, the parents’ respective attorneys will typically be present for the child interview. A court reporter will transcribe the child’s testimony word-for-word so that this testimony can be used in future child custody hearings.

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Wheaton high conflict divorce attorneyMarried couples choose to divorce for countless reasons. Sometimes, spouses simply grow apart or realize that it was a mistake to get married in the first place. In these cases, spouses may not want to be married any longer, but they still have a high level of respect and concern for each other. On the other hand, some divorcing spouses are vengeful and combative. Divorces involving infidelity, deceit, domestic violence, or vindictiveness may require a very different approach than more amicable divorces. If you have reason to believe that your divorce might be hostile, you may wonder if there is anything you can do to start preparing yourself now.  

Consider a Guardian Ad Litem

Continuous divorces between parents may involve strong disagreements about child custody and visitation, which are called “the allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” in Illinois. Illinois courts make decisions in these areas based on what is in the child’s best interests. Unfortunately, some parents may attempt to sway the court’s decision in their favor by misrepresenting themselves or lying about the other parent. In some child custody disputes, a Guardian Ad Litem is assigned to the case to represent the children’s best interests and uncover the true facts of the case. The Guardian Ad Litem may do this by conducting interviews, evaluating parents’ homes and interactions with children, and analyzing financial information. You may want to request a Guardian Ad Litem if you have concerns about your spouse’s parenting abilities or if you want your child to have a specially-trained advocate.

Mediation May Not Be Your Best Option

Some divorcing couples who disagree about property division, child custody, spousal support, or other divorce terms are able to work out a solution to their disagreements through mediation. During divorce mediation, parties agree to work with a qualified mediator, negotiate in good faith, and collaborate with experts in order to reach a resolution. However, if there is a major power imbalance between the spouses, or if a spouse refuses to have reasonable discussions about divorce-related disagreements, mediation may not be a viable choice. It may be better for spouses to consult with their respective attorneys and formulate a divorce strategy personalized to their unique set of challenges.

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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney GALAlthough any divorce can be difficult, parents who choose to end their marriage may face a variety of challenges. Children with divorcing parents may experience a great deal of stress and anxiety as they struggle to understand why their parents are splitting up and how to cope with the changes. They may worry that the end of their parents’ marriage was somehow their fault or feel like they have to choose sides. In some divorce cases involving children, a special attorney called a guardian ad litem (GAL) is appointed to help address child-related issues. If you are planning to divorce, a guardian ad litem may be essential in making sure that the terms of your divorce are in your child’s best interests.

When Is a Guardian Ad Litem Appointed in a Divorce Case?

When a person involved in a legal proceeding such as a divorce cannot represent themselves, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to look out for his or her well-being. Most often, a GAL is appointed to help determine the best possible situation for a child whose parents are divorcing. Guardians ad litem are often appointed in divorce cases involving domestic abuse, child custody disputes regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, and disagreements regarding child support

In Illinois, a GAL may be requested by a parent undergoing a divorce or family law dispute, or a GAL can be appointed by a judge. Asking for a GAL may be beneficial when parents disagree about certain aspects of their child’s welfare, such as who the child should live with. Court litigation in front of a judge can be stressful and expensive. If parents can agree to accept the GAL’s advice, this may help them avoid unnecessary court hearings.

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How a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) Could Affect Your Divorce Case

DuPage County child custody lawyer guardian ad litemWhen dealing with the emotions of divorce, children often struggle to come to terms with the end of their parents’ relationship. The uncertainty that comes with the major changes in their lives can cause children to experience stress, anxiety, and depression. For children going through a divorce, the more emotional support they can get, the better. Because of this, many courts elect to appoint an attorney to deal with issues related specifically to the children involved in a divorce case. 

This type of attorney is most commonly referred to as a guardian ad litem (GAL), and they are routinely appointed in cases involving child custody disputes, domestic abuse incidents, and issues related to child support. If you are in the midst of a divorce, and you believe the well-being of your children may be at risk, asking your legal team about the possibilities of appointing a guardian ad litem may be critically important in ensuring your child ends up in the healthiest living situation. 

Guardians Ad Litem in Illinois 

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