What is a Guardian Ad Litem and How Do They Work For Children?
Guardians ad litem (abbreviated as GAL) are lawyers appointed by judges in the family court who are tasked with advocating for the children’s needs and interests. In family law cases, which can include a Kansas or Missouri divorce, a paternity or parentage case, or other child custody modification, if abuse or neglect is alleged by either parent against the other parent, it is mandatory that the court appoint a guardian ad litem to ensure that the best interests of the child or children involved are protected.
Attorney Mandee Pingel has been licensed as a guardian ad litem for domestic and family law matters for many years. It is an honor and privilege for her to be appointed by courts to serve children when they are going through a difficult time. The skills acquired for Mandee, both in being a parent herself, as well as in having many years of specialized child-focused, child-centered needs and advocacy will serve you well in your child custody, divorce, paternity or other family law case.
GAL’s are tasked by the court with being your child’s (or children’s) voice in the court proceeding. While each parent, with their lawyer, might advocate for what he or she wants or believes is best for the children, it is important that the children’s needs in the process are considered and honored.
Prior to the respective hearing, there are several ways that a GAL may go about gathering information related to the child:
- Interview the child’s relations with the intention of determining what the child’s wishes, feelings, and attachments are in regards to the case
- Interviewing the child directly to determine what their wishes, desires, and and feelings are
- Engage in face-to-face meetings with the child when appropriate to determine the child’s mental, physical, familial, educational and social well-being
- Review court records and reports related to the case and the child’s part in it
The intention of these interviews is to give the appointed guardian ad litem an accurate understanding of what the child’s best interests are.
Advocating for the Child
Additionally, the GAL will advocate on behalf of the child throughout the court proceedings to ensure that hearings are dealt with in a timely manner; this is particularly important for children who are temporarily in the foster care system or otherwise disruptive or unsettled situation due to the court proceedings. The guardian ad litem will also advocate for your child to receive any necessary services and also for the compliance with court-given orders.
Representing the Child In Court
Finally, the GAL will work to ensure that the child understands what is happening during the legal proceedings (at an age-appropriate level) and that they are aware of their role in the proceedings. They will also speak out on behalf of the child’s best interests during court proceedings.
What Are the Requirements To Be a Guardian Ad Litem?
The Supreme Court of Missouri requires that guardian ad litem attorneys in Missouri meet the following requirements:
- They are licensed by the Supreme Court
- They have completed training pertaining to the guardian ad litem role
- They complete an annual training related to the guardian ad litem program each year
- They have completed a training in permanency planning
How Do I Get a Guardian Ad Litem In Missouri?
A GAL child advocate will be automatically appointed by the court in the following types of cases (Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 452.423):
- Alleged child abuse
- Alleged child neglect
Other cases in which a GAL may be appointed by the court include:
- Child custody
- Dissolution of marriage
- Legal separation
- Child support
Guardian Ad Litem FAQ
What kind of questions will a guardian ad litem ask?
This can vary from case to case, but sometimes GALs will provide parents with a questionnaire to fill out, providing them with basic information regarding the family’s history, their relationship with the child, their relationship with the other parent, etc. They may also ask you for details about your child’s interests, personality, school performance, and more. You can also expect for the guardian ad litem to speak with your child about these things.
Who pays for a guardian ad litem?
In most cases the parents will be held responsible for paying for the guardian ad literm’s services.
Is a CASA the same as a GAL?
While they have similar roles, guardians ad litem and court appointed special advocates (CASAs) are distinct. A CASA is typically a trained volunteer, while a GAL is usually a licensed attorney.
Let Pingel Family Law Advocate for Your Child
No matter the situation, Attorney Pingel is ready to advocate for your child’s best interests and ensure that your legal matters are resolved with as little disruption to your child’s life as possible.
Contact our Missouri guardian ad litem lawyer today for skilled and compassionate representation!
“I have known Attorney Pingel for more than fifteen (15) years. Mandee is a lawyer I consider a respected colleague. She has a reputation for being intelligent, knowledgeable about the law, well-prepared and kind.”- A Lawyer in Liberty, Missouri
“First and foremost, I have to say Thank You again to Mandee, Tsion and Grace for everything they do, not just for me, but for all their clients.”- Joe L.
“I absolutely loved working with this attorney’s office.”- Emily S.
“We worked with Mandee Pingel to represent my wife in a child custody case. Mandee and her team were amazing to work with. She and Tsion communicated with us regularly. This helped us tremendously.”- Zac D.
“I met with 4 different attorneys before scheduling a consultation with Mandee. During our engagement, Mandee was very thorough and to the point and had no problem calling it how it is, which included appropriately correcting others at times.”- Jason G.