Once you have a guardian ad litem (attorney appointed to represent the best interest of the child) appointed to your case, they will do an investigation. You and your Utah Divorce Lawyer want to do your very best to help the guardian ad litem understand your point of view. Here are some tips for doing the best job you can with the guardian ad litem.
The guardian ad litem (GAL) will almost always send a questionnaire to be filled out with details about the case, along with perhaps some releases.
- Take your time to do a good job on the questionnaire, but do NOT submit it to the GAL until yourUtah Divorce Lawyer has had a chance to look at your responses.
- Do not sign any releases until you have yourUtah Divorce Attorney‘s consent to do so.
- Fill out the questionnaire thoroughly, and take the questions seriously. Do the home work to give complete answers.
- Understand that NOTHING you say to the GAL is privileged, the questionnaire may be disclosed to the other side in discovery, and may even end up as a trial exhibit. Yes, there is a chance, although slim, that the Magistrate will see your questionnaire. Therefore, do not be casual when answering, be careful.
Understand that GAL’s often have a busy case load. The more organized you and your Utah Divorce Lawyer are when presenting your information to them, the more easily the GAL can understand your point of view.
Your Utah Divorce Lawyer should prepare a packet of information to be sent to the guardian ad litem. What goes in that packet of information should, at a minimum, include a copy of all the pleadings in your case. If your Utah Divorce Attorney has additional information relevant to your case, you and/or your Utah Divorce Lawyer can organize the information in a way that is easy to digest (usually, but not always, chronological order). It is helpful, but no crucial, if your Utah Divorce Attorney can send this information to the GAL before his or her first interview with you. Hopefully, the GAL will have had time to look at the information before your first meeting, but do not become upset if it does not work out this way. Be respectful of their schedule and work load. They do not receive a packet of materials from all Utah Divorce Lawyers, and the bigger the packet, the bigger an unexpected surprise the GAL will have received.
Before your first meeting with the GAL, think about what you want to tell him or her. Make a list of important points, so that you do not forget them. Think about what you think the other side will want to say to the GAL, so that you can present your side of the story. If your Utah Divorce Lawyer sent materials to the GAL (other than just pleadings), you should bring a copy with you so that you can tell the GAL about those materials, especially if the GAL has not had a chance to read them yet.
- Tell the truth.
- NEVER FORGET, the GAL is not your attorney, and nothing you say to them is privileged (secret). They can use ANYTHING you say against you, if they think it is best for the child.
- The GAL is not exactly a neutral, they are an advocate for the child. They will use any evidence they gather from their investigation in whatever way they think will benefit the child, as long as it is legal and ethical.
- If you have ANY QUESTIONS AT ALL about touchy subjects that will have to be discussed with the GAL, talk to your attorney first. You may find that the subject you are worried about is perfectly okay to discuss with the GAL. Regardless, you will feel more confident and less nervous having discussed it with your attorney first.
After the GAL’s investigation is complete, he or she will make a recommendation to the court. This recommendation is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE. Very important. Some courts flatly follow the recommendation of their guardians without variance. In this writers experience, with many different Utah counties, about 90% of the time, if a case goes to trial over custody matters, the court will make orders which are the same or similar to the recommendation of the GAL. Do not count on being the exception to the rule, and don’t expect your attorney to make you the exception to the rule once the bad news is in. Instead, work hard at the very beginning of the case to present organized information to the GAL about your point of view so that this person can understand a lot of information in a short period of time, and hopefully reach a favorable conclusion.
Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah
If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506