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When parents cannot agree, enter a guardian ad litem

When Ohio parents are going through a divorce, it can be a time when their ability to focus on their child’s best interests diminishes due to emotions or acrimony between them. Parents may also find that they are unable to agree on what is best for their child when reviewing their options.

When disagreement happens, the court may decide to use a guardian ad litem. The judge will appoint this person to explore the situation affecting the child and parents and propose to the court what he or she finds to be in the child’s best interest.

Parents pay the GAL's fees

When the court decides a GAL may be helpful, it does not come free to the parents. Rather, each parent will pay a portion of the GAL’s fee.

The part owed by each will be a reflection of their relative incomes. Thus, parents with relatively equal incomes will typically split the cost in half. The ongoing appointment of the GAL will involve monthly billing to the parents.

GAL has duty to objectively investigate and recommend

Typically, the GAL, who must act in an unbiased, fair and neutral manner, will invite the parents for an initial conference at his or her office. The parents may fill out forms providing intake information.

The GAL will also likely schedule a home visit with each parent while the child is present with that parent. This allows the GAL to observe how the parent and child interact in the home. In addition to reviewing the filed pleadings, the GAL may investigate further by doing the following:

  • Requesting records pertaining to the child
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Obtaining other information that may become relevant

The court will require that the GAL issue a written report, which will become part of the evidence, at least seven days before the final hearing. He or she may also testify. The judge will then consider the recommendation of the GAL when making his or her decision.

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