In adoption matters and cases involving child custody, Illinois judges will typically appoint a guardian ad litem. The "GAL" acts as an advisor to the judge and normally prepares a report and recommendations as to how to best protect the interests of the child. This usually involves interviewing the child, the birth parents and/or step parents or other custodial adult and will often require one or more home visits. The GAL tries to obtain as much relevant information as possible to determine the best place for the child to reside. A judge is free to accept or reject the GAL's recommendations in whole or in part but they are often quite persuasive.
If you are involved in an adoption or child custody case, you should budget for paying the GAL’s fees. The amount due from each party to the case will be apportioned by the presiding judge and will be in addition to any fees you pay to your own lawyer.
June Peterson-Gleason is on the list of approved GALs in Lake County, Illinois and is often appointed by the court to serve in this role. Her experience as an advocate for children gives her a unique perspective on what courts are looking for in determining who is the best custodial adult. Her knowledge in this area can be an invaluable resource in resolving divorce and child custody disputes. Feel free to contact her for more information.