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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

Heads up parents: It’s okay to disagree with a GAL report

Even though the position of a guardian ad litem (GAL) is to ensure a child’s best interests are taken into consideration in a custody determination, parents don’t always agree with what GALs consider to be the best course of action. This is because most parents believe they know what’s best for their children, not some stranger who barely knows their child let alone the situation they are in.

Courts often put a lot of weight on GAL reports, as we point out in this article. As such, a parent may feel anxious to voice a disagreement with the GAL’s decision because of concerns about how the court will view a challenge to a GAL’s findings. A parent may even worry that a GAL’s decision is final and that voicing disapproval will not make a difference.

Even though these feelings are common, parents do have two options when it comes to confronting a GAL decision that is contrary to his or her belief.

Option #1: Try to negotiate an alternative settlement.

Suggestions made by GALS are generally made after carefully considering the situation, all evidence presented and ultimately what a GAL feels is in the child’s best interests. If you agree on some of the points they make or feel there is a better or more reasonable solution, then it may be possible to negotiate a custody arrangement that more aligns with your feelings about your child’s best interests.

Option #2: Litigate your case before a judge.

If negotiations are not possible or simply aren’t working out, then it may be necessary to litigate your case. Doing so with the help of an experienced family law attorney is advised as they are more familiar with the law and know how a GAL bases his or her determinations. As such, a lawyer is more equipped to refute the suggestions made by a GAL and assert the preferences of a parent who is in disagreement.