A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is a court-appointed third-party neutral who represents the best interests of the child. A GAL will conduct home visits, have interviews with the parties and their proposed witnesses, meet and speak with the child, speak with medical and academic professionals, as applicable, review documents, text messages, social media, etc. After considering all facts he/she will submit a Report and Recommendation to the parties which will most likely be used as evidence at trial.
Attorney Budnik works as a GAL and also uses GALs from time-to-time on specific cases. GALs are often used in contested cases wherein one party fears the child is being harmed by the other parent but perhaps in a less obvious way.
For example, it may be easy to prove a parent is unfit to have timesharing if there is a Department of Children and Families (DCF) case open, there is a clear addiction, or perhaps there is criminal activity.
In the alternative, in cases of parent alienation, suspicions of drug use or unsafe conditions for the child, or any other circumstance where evidence would not be easily obtained and obvious, a GAL can be extremely helpful in flushing out the facts and acquiring evidence.
Most importantly, a GAL writes a Report and Recommendation for a Parenting Plan which outlines the child’s best interests. It is very common for a judge to follow this recommendation.