Cook County Child Advocates in Family Law Matters
In any action involving child support, parental responsibilities (child custody), parenting time (visitation rights), education, parentage, or welfare of a minor child, the court may appoint a lawyer to represent the interests of a child. These roles can be:
- Attorney — The attorney provides the same counsel and owes the same duties to the child as the attorney would if the child were an adult.
- Guardian ad litem — A guardian ad litem is appointed by the court to testify or submit a written report describing his or her position in the best interests of the child. A guardian ad litem investigates the facts of the particular situation, interviews the child and parents, and formulates an opinion as to the child’s best interests. A guardian ad litem may be called as a witness but cannot cross-examine other witnesses in a trial.
- Child representative — The child representative is uniquely different from both a regular attorney and a guardian ad litem. The child representative advocates on the child’s behalf based on what he or she has determined to be the best interests of the child. Unlike a regular attorney who is duty-bound to pursue the child’s wishes, a child representative may consider the child’s wishes but not necessarily follow them. The representative can interview and investigate the facts, cross-examine witnesses, recommend settlements, and work to find alternate forms of dispute resolution. The representative cannot be called as a witness and does not produce a report to the court. Instead, they advocate for the child’s interest and present evidence to support their assertions. The child representative is required to have training or equivalent experience in child advocacy.
Protecting The Child’s Best Interests
Van A. Schwab regularly serves as a guardian ad litem or child representative at the request of family courts. In these roles, he conducts the necessary interviews and investigation in order to accurately determine the best interests of the child. The investigation may involve conducting interviews, gaining releases from both parents to review school records and psychological reports concerning the child, and evaluating all evidence that is gathered.
Learn more about the role that a child representative or guardian ad litem may play in your child custody dispute. Contact The Law Offices of Van A. Schwab today.