A Child’s Voice: Part II
Last week, we addressed the importance of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and the process of volunteering to become one. In the final installment of our two-part series, we will discuss how a GAL may be involved in a child custody case and highlight an organization that advocates for children in these situations, the Council for Children’s Rights.
GALs may be appointed in particularly litigious child custody cases when parents disagree about what is best for their children. Upon request or of her own volition, a judge may decide to appoint a GAL to help her determine what custodial arrangement is in the best interests of the children.
Acting as the voice of the children, GALs serve on a case until a permanent plan is approved by the court. Courts can place a great deal of weight on the recommendations of a GAL and sometimes adopt the recommendations as part of the permanent custody order. However, the court is not obligated to follow the recommendations of a GAL. The parents of the children have the right to present evidence as to why the court should do something other than what the GAL has recommended. Our court system is designed to provide a voice for everyone involved.
In North Carolina, attorneys and other volunteers can train to become a GAL. However, there are different organizations that also work towards protecting the interests of children. One of these organizations is the Council for Children’s Rights (CFCR).
The CFCR strives to improve the lives and futures of children in North Carolina through legal representation, individual advocacy, and by addressing community-wide issues through research and policy work. For example, the CFCR provides advocacy for children in the areas of child welfare, custody, delinquency, mental health, and special education. They also educate and train professionals, parents, and others who represent, work with, and care for children to become more effective advocates. When children are in the middle of a high-conflict situation or case, the CFCR stands with them and gives them a voice.
At Hatcher Law Group, we know that requesting the appointment of a GAL or deciding to seek help from the CFCR are important decisions that should not be taken lightly. Contact one of our experienced family law attorneys today if you or someone you know has questions about these matters. We are here to help.