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How to Act Around a Guardian ad Litem in Your Washington Divorce Case Exclusively Focused on Family Law

How to Act Around a Guardian Ad Litem in Your Washington Divorce Case

In any Washington divorce that involves a child custody decision, the court or either party to the divorce can obtain a guardian ad litem, or GAL, who will act as a representative of the child in the divorce proceedings. The GAL may be an attorney (not your own if you are represented), a social worker or a volunteer.

The guardian ad litem will report to the court regarding what he or she believes is the best parenting arrangement for the family according to what is in the best interests of the child. The GAL's recommendation includes who will have custody of the child, whether it should be sole or joint, and visitation rights for the noncustodial parent. The report may also make recommendations that a certain parent must complete other actions to obtain visitation or custody, such as getting treatment for anger management or substance abuse. The GAL will do this by analyzing:

  • All of the divorce documents filed in court
  • Interviews with the parties to the case and witnesses to each parents' actions
  • Criminal records of the parties to the case
  • Observations of interactions between each parent and the child
  • Information gathered in all court hearings

Tips to Put Your Best Foot Forward

As a rule, family court judges take recommendations from GALs very seriously. As such, it is important that you present yourself in the best possible light when interacting with a GAL. This can be difficult; it may feel intrusive or unfair to have someone around who seems to be judging you as a parent. Still, patience, a calm demeanor and a few other actions can go a long way toward presenting yourself as the right parent for your child. These include:

  • Cooperating and being on time to any appointments, interviews or observations
  • Remaining calm, patient and polite, even if you do not appreciate the process or the GAL's questions or comments
  • Giving honest, accurate information on the other parent, including actions or behaviors that could harm the child, without badmouthing the other parent; stating facts or giving documents such as arrest reports, but not verbally attacking the other parent or calling him or her names
  • If possible, keeping stable housing
  • If you have a mental condition, seeking treatment or continuing to follow medical advice such as taking regular prescriptions
  • Above all, taking a positive interest in your child's life, including participating in your child's school, taking loving care of him or her and remaining a positive force in your child's life

These are just a few tips. If you have questions regarding the role of a guardian ad litem or need representation in your divorce case, contact an experienced divorce lawyer to discuss your situation.

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