Most child custody attorneys, or guardians ad litem, are assigned to divorcing couples to represent the best interests of the children in court. This often brings about some very negative feelings because most parents tend to believe that no one else knows what is best or better for their children than they themselves. While that is often true, you have to think of the guardian ad litem as a placeholder for where your children would sit in court if they were allowed to be in attendance. If it helps, you can make sure the guardian ad litem does his or her job by doing the following.
Provide Very Specific References to the G.A.L.
A guardian ad litem, or G.A.L. for short, will ask both you and your ex for references. These references must be professional references who have seen you interact with your children on a regular basis and can answer some questions regarding your parenting abilities. Such examples include the teachers at school, your children's pediatrician or therapist, and childcare providers. All of these people are considered "experts" on your children and your interactions with your children. The G.A.L. is supposed to question these references in order to determine the best placement for your kids.
You should provide very specific references with contact information. Two weeks after your office visit with the G.A.L., your references should hear something from him/her. A week before the custody hearing, call or email your references to see if the G.A.L. has spoken to anyone. Ask your references to send you an informal email by the date prior to the hearing if they have not spoken to the G.A.L. yet. Print and take these emails to court with you in case there is any question about who spoke to whom.
Provide the G.A.L. with Documented Evidence
Sometimes the G.A.L. will only make a recommendation on the children's custody based on what has been said. You can either try to counter that in open court (which is nearly impossible without a divorce lawyer) or you can provide documented evidence to the G.A.L. prior to the hearing. The evidence should support your regular and supportive interaction with your children, as well as your level of commitment and responsibility to them.
This evidence should include, but not be limited to, who takes them to medical and dental appointments, who pays the bills and buys the children food and clothing, who participates in extracurricular activities with them, who assists them with school projects or chaperones their class trips and who responds most often to emergency calls from the schools. Likewise, provide the same documents to your lawyer, and if you provide them to the judge, you will have to send copies to your ex as well. Then there is no question who is there for the children most often.
For more information, talk to a professional like Cragun Law Firm.